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Big business group to join Duterte in China

Registration for President Duterte’s state visit to China next week is oversubscribed.

Initially only about two dozen Filipino entrepreneurs were to accompany Mr. Duterte but the number had ballooned, according to Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado.

At least 400 businessmen have signed up to join Mr. Duterte’s trip, according to Francis Chua, chair emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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Business deals

Chua said the business delegation would be a mix of small and big businesspeople looking for opportunities in what he expected would be a “reawakening” of trade and investment ties that went into hiatus due to rising tension in the South China Sea.

“We expect to have a bounty of business opportunities from this visit, especially with a President willing to explore the limits of a fruitful partnership with China,” he said.

Filipino executives are reportedly eager to talk with Chinese business leaders and government officials about deals in a range of sectors from rail and construction to tourism, agribusiness, power and manufacturing.

Big conglomerates from the Philippines, including those led by families with ancestral roots in China, are joining the delegation.

Tycoons

Business tycoons Ramon S. Ang of the San Miguel group, Manuel V. Pangilinan of Metro Pacific and PLDT Inc., Lucio Tan and son Michael Tan of the Lucio Tan group, Hans Sy of the SM group, Carlos Chan of the Oishi group, Alfredo Yao of the Zest-O group and Henry Lim Bon Liong of the Sterling Group of companies are among those who are joining the state visit to China.

Over a hundred  officers and members of Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry will also accompany the President, according to industry sources.

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Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) president Frederick Go said the trip would yield more business opportunities given prospects of closer economic ties between the Philippines and China.

RLC has entered China’s residential property market with a 1,300-unit master-planned township project in Chengdu.

Opportunities

In separate text messages, Ang and Yao replied in the affirmative when asked whether their groups would explore more business opportunities in China.

San Miguel’s beer unit, San Miguel Brewery, currently operates two breweries in China.

“We think stronger relations with any country, including China, should be good for the Philippines,” said Ozsen Chan, president of Liwayway Marketing (Oishi group).

The Oishi group, which has 16 factories in China, is among the top five snack-food producers in China in the whole sweet and savory snack food category.

For the SM group, its strategy is to build shopping malls in second- and third-tier cities at a pace of one mall per year, said SM Investments Corp. investor relations chief, Cora Guidote.

“China has always been open to partnering with the Philippines. In fact, here in the Philippines, we have a lot of Chinese suppliers and tenants. It’s just a matter of continuing to harness these relationships,” Guidote said.

Another SM mall

SM Prime currently operates six shopping malls in China. Before the end of the year, Guidote said SM would open another new mall in China, the first phase of the SM mall in Tianjin.

The visit comes as Mr. Duterte puts aside years of hostility to seek a new partnership with Beijing at a time when tensions between Manila and its traditional ally, Washington, are mounting.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said Mr. Duterte would meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in his Oct. 18-21 trip, and they would have a “deep exchange of views” on how to improve ties, cooperation and regional issues.

“China looks forward to increasing mutual trust between the two countries, deepening practical cooperation and continuing the tradition of friendship via the visit of President Duterte,” Geng told a daily news briefing.

The two leaders should appropriately handle disputes through talks and promote a strategic, cooperative relationship that is dedicated to peace and development, he said.

“The Philippines is a traditionally friendly neighbor of China. The two peoples have a long history of friendship,” he added.

An Inquirer source said Mr. Duterte would be conferred an honorary doctorate by Beijing University.

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TAGS: Business, China visit, Duterte Administration, Philippine diplomacy, Philippine news updates, Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado
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