MOC highlights ties with the Philippines, Ecuador, and evolving COVID measures
China will expand imports of high-quality Philippine products and support Chinese companies to invest in the Southeast Asian country, particularly in the fields of green and digital economies, said China's Ministry of Commerce on Friday.
The government will enhance synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Philippines' Build, Build, Build Infrastructure Program, or BBB, to further enrich their business relations, said Shu Jueting, the ministry's spokeswoman.
Launched in 2017, BBB is a program to build large-scale infrastructure like roads, bridges, airports, seaports, flood management facilities, water resources, energy plants, communication networks and solid waste management units.
Thanks to factors such as huge trade complementarity and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, Sino-Philippine trade surged 8.3 percent year-on-year to $80.41 billion between January and November of 2022, ministry data showed.
The Philippines is China's largest source of banana and pineapple imports, with coconut, avocado and frozen fruits entering the Chinese market one after another, said Shu, adding that fresh durian will be exported to China soon.
The cooperation between Chinese and Philippine companies in the fields of services outsourcing, logistics, agriculture, steel and telecommunications has also shown strong vitality in recent years, she noted.
To promote trade between Ningbo in East China's Zhejiang province and member economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the city started to operate its first airfreight service to the Philippine capital Manila in December. The service runs three times a week, according to the operator Longhao Airlines, which is based in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
Also, China has been actively seeking to join high-standard economic and trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement. China and Ecuador have reached preliminary consensus at a technical level in their free trade agreement or FTA talks, after more than 10 months of intensive negotiations, Shu said.
The two sides are completing their domestic procedures in an effort to announce the conclusion of the negotiations as soon as possible, she told a weekly news briefing in Beijing.
The Commerce Ministry official said a bilateral FTA will play an important role in promoting sustained, stable and wide-ranging trade and investment development between China and the South American country.
As China's optimized COVID-19 control policies and eased travel restrictions have been welcomed by many multinational corporations and foreign business chambers, the Ministry of Commerce is confident these measures would help boost global companies' confidence on the country.
In the next step, the government will continue to expand market access for foreign investors, ensure a level playing field for both domestic and global companies in China, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors, and create more convenient conditions for them to invest in China, Shu said.
Yin Zheng, executive vice-president for China and East Asia operations of French multinational Schneider Electric SE, said: "China's continuous actions to expand opening-up, build a benign business environment, increase the protection of intellectual property rights and foster innovation, have strengthened our confidence in long-term growth in the country."
The Chinese economy, Yin said, is bursting with new growth dynamics on the back of the dual carbon goals, the stress on high-quality development, and industries' transformation in terms of both digitalization and sustainability.
These areas will create huge market potential, said Yin, adding Schneider Electric set up an automation innovation center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in November last year.
Kilian Aviles, senior vice-president for APAC at Dekra SE, a German testing, inspection and certification group with more than 48,000 employees globally, said the company welcomes China's recent adjustment of COVID-19 response measures.
China's industrial ecosystem and digitalization initiatives will play a crucial role in shaping the future in areas like connected products, electric vehicles and clean power generation in global markets, he said.
The actual use of foreign direct investment on the Chinese mainland expanded 9.9 percent year-on-year to 1.16 trillion yuan ($169.24 billion) during the January-November period of 2022, ministry data showed.