ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
DOF: China is PHL's biggest trading partner
China is now the biggest trading partner of the Philippines, with the amount reaching $44.8 billion as of 2017 alone.
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez made the announcement during the visit of Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi in President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown of Davao City on Monday.
Wang's visit is two weeks ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the Philippines next month.
“China, Hong Kong and Macau included, is now our biggest trading partner at $44.8 billion as of 2017,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez made the disclosure after Wang said, through an interpreter, that China's investments to the Philippines which “meets the needs of the Philippines and the Filipino people” increased by 67 percent in 2017 and exponentially grew by 500 percent during the first six months of 2018.
“These [investments] will meet the needs and are for development of the Philippines and its people,” Wang said.
The amount of Philippine exports shipped to China, however, only registered a 10 percent growth last year and 12 percent for the first half of 2018, Wang said.
Details of these investment and trade values were not immediately available as the media coverage of Wang's visit was abruptly cut nine minutes into the meeting between the two parties.
The Duterte administration is already pushing for a joint exploration deal on the West Philippine Sea with China even if such agreement is not in line with the Philippine Constitution which only allows a co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations whose capital is at least 60 percent owned by Filipinos.
In addition, the joint exploration deal with China also runs counter to the July 2016 ruling of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration which rejected China's entire claim of South China Sea and declared that the Spratly Islands, as well as the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank, are all within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines which it calls the West Philippine Sea.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration issued the decision in July 2016 as a result of the case filed by the Philippines against China over Beijing's intrusion of and aggression committed against Filipino fishermen within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in South China Sea which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
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