China Premier Starts State Visit Today; Wen Jiabao Here to Promote Bilateral Trade, Look for Investments; RP and China Set to Sign Agriculture, Trade Agreements
Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN & MARVYN BENANING
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is arriving today in Manila to start his two-day official visit to promote bilateral trade and look for more investment opportunities for Chinese businesses in the Philippines.
Wen is scheduled to arrive today at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 at 4:30 p.m. from Cebu City, where he attended the 12th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Wen will meet President Arroyo in Malacanang for an expanded bilateral meeting and to witness the signing of agreements.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 12 agreements will be signed between the Philippines and China during Wen's official visit, but these would not include the planned bilateral free trade agreement.
DFA Spokesman Eduardo Malaya said the bilateral agreements will be on trade, cultural protection, agriculture, mass transport, and customs cooperation, among others.
Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Wen's visit will focus on increasing trade between the Philippines and China, and promote the Philippines as an investment site for Chinese capital.
"China should also look at the Philippines as a destination for even greater Chinese foreign investments, particularly in the areas of mining, infrastructure, development, agriculture, and fisheries, as well as housing. We would like to see more investments from China in the Philippines and are hopeful that they are coming," Bunye said.
Bunye said the first step towards increasing bilateral trade and investments between the two countries is the signing of the planned bilateral free trade agreement which, the DFA said, is still under negotiations.
The Philippines and China are expecting bilateral trade volume to double from $ 17.56 billion in 2005 to at least $ 30 billion by 2010.
"President Arroyo believes that both the Philippines and China should deepen existing cooperation between the two countries. Most importantly, we should finish the negotiations and implement the RP-China Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Partnership Framework to continue opening up economic opportunities between our two nations," Bunye said.
Negotiations for the planned free trade agreement were facilitated by an economic partnership forum held last June when Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai visited the Philippines.
Bunye said Wen's visit, which will be held alongside the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in Cebu, also aims at improving China's trade relationships with other members of the ASEAN.
ASEAN and China have signed during the 12th ASEAN Summit the agreement on Trade in Services of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is expected to sign 19 agribusiness agreements worth P240.1 billion with China, which covers the development of over 1.2 million hectares of land for rice, corn and highvalue crops, during the Wen's state visit to the Philippines.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the deals, which involve investment pledges in the next five to seven years, includes a memorandum of agreement (MoA) allowing the Fu Hua Co. of China to invest $ 3.83 billion (30 billion renminbi of RMB) in one million hectares of land in the Philippines for the cultivation of hybrid corn, hybrid rice and hybrid sorghum.
Besides Yap , Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes and Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman would also be signing the agreement with Fu Hua.
Yap said the MoAs, which also include a deal that would allow Filipino exporters to enter China's over $ 1-billion fruit market, would be signed in Malacanang during the state visit of Wen from January 15 to 16, after he attends the ASEAN-China summit and the ASEANPlus Three meeting as part of the rescheduled ASEAN summit in Cebu City . …