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China trip dividend $3B so far, says trade chief

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:30 AM October 14, 2016

President Duterte may secure over $3 billion in funding commitments from China-based financial institutions and private corporations in his state visit to Beijing next week, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Thursday.

Lopez, who is expected to be part of the President’s official delegation, said the commitments may come in the form of investments, soft loans and assistance to the trade sector alone.

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The total funding commitment could be bigger if other sectors such as infrastructure, transportation, communications and agriculture, among others, were considered, he said.

“[A number of agreements] will be signed—private to private, government to government and the Chinese private sector to the Philippine government. These will be in various forms of support that will include funding commitments. Some will be business to business deals so these will be commercial transactions,” Lopez told reporters on the sidelines of the 42nd Philippine Business Conference.

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Lots of initiatives

“There will be a lot of private sector initiatives with Chinese banks committing funds to support the growth of the Philippine economy in general. This means that we can expect funding commitments from both the private sector and the government,” he said. “In terms of trade and financing economic activities, I’ve been hearing some numbers already, which should be over $3 billion. But that’s just for trade and investments only, and so it should be more.”

President Duterte is to visit China from Oct. 18 to 21 as he moves away from traditional trade and security ally the United States with Chinese leader Xi Jinping expected to give him a warm welcome.

Mr. Duterte has threatened to end a decades-long alliance with the United States,  giving Beijing a boost in its quest for more control over the strategically vital South China Sea.

Outrage over US criticism

Mr. Duterte has said he is trying to wean the Philippines from an unhealthy reliance on its former colonial ruler. He has signaled that the shift was also due to his outrage at US criticism of his bloody war on drugs that has left nearly 4,000 addicts and pushers dead, about half of them considered “deaths under investigation” or slain by unknown vigilantes.

Analysts believe Mr. Duterte’s attraction to a rising China is typical of his ultra-pragmatic governing style, following repeated speeches highlighting what he believes is the United States’ diminishing economic and military might.

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Machiavellian

“He is a results-oriented person, Machiavellian too,” University of the Philippines political science professor Clarita Carlos said. “The guy knows if he can find markets for our bananas, pineapples and create employment, whether it’s China, Russia or Mali, that’s where we are going. Whatever works.”

Mr. Duterte is taking along a delegation of about 400 businessmen, including many of the Philippines’ biggest tycoons, in a bid to capitalize on the warming of relations that has taken place due to his efforts to placate Beijing on the South China Sea row. —WITH AN AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE REPORT

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TAGS: Duterte China trip, Philippine news updates, President Duterte, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
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