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Mutual benefits seen in links with Philippines

By Sophie He in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-08 08:16

Belt and Road, AIIB provide opportunities for both countries, entrepreneurs say

The Philippines will benefit both politically and economically from China's Belt and Road Initiative, according to entrepreneurs from the country, who said they want more talks with Chinese businesspeople to discuss opportunities.

Thanks to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative, more infrastructure projects will be built in the Philippines, including highways and ports, and it will be good for the country's economy and increase access to the world, George Siy, chairman emeritus of the Anvil Business Club, told China Daily.

Siy said the fact that the Philippines has joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank shows its recognition of China's economic influence and its commitment to developing infrastructure. He also said the initiative will boost investment and trade in the Philippines.

The initiative is expected to enhance business, and Siy hopes that both government officials and nongovernmental organizations will increase communication and get together more often to look for opportunities.

"There should be more meetings between business groups, entrepreneurs, travel agents and other organizations from the two countries, not just government officials," he said.

Siy added that since more businesspeople are traveling between China and the Philippines, the two governments should also address possible problems such as drug smuggling and terrorism.

Wilson Lee Flores, business columnist at the Philippine Star and honorary chairman of the Anvil Business Club, said he thinks the Belt and Road Initiative is a very exciting, bold and historic project that will help boost economic and social development in vast regions across Asia, Europe and Africa through modern infrastructure, trade and investments.

It's a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road trade routes on land and sea connecting China to the rest of the world and will economically help liberate many developing nations and regions from the age-old problems of poverty, inaccessibility and unbalanced economic growth, he added.

"The Philippines is an ancient friend and good trading partner with China," Lee said. "Let us not forget that the two countries have never had any history of conflict or war. In fact, both countries were allies during World War II in jointly resisting the Japanese military invasion of Asia.

"The Philippines can benefit from the initiative by becoming an active partner once again in the revival of the ancient Maritime Silk Road. We should be an active partner in the AIIB to help our infrastructure projects. And we need to expand mutually beneficial bilateral trade and investment exchanges."

Lee said the two countries have complementary economies - the Philippines is resource-rich but lacking in capital, technology and infrastructure while China needs more natural resources. So they can be great partners once again.

The Philippines possesses mineral, agricultural and fisheries resources that can help supply China, while China can supply the Philippines with financing and technology, infrastructure and construction capabilities, such as high-speed trains, seaports and airports.

"The Philippines is situated strategically between two important bodies of water, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean," Lee said. "It also lies at the heart of Southeast Asia. Our society can benefit from increased Chinese investment in our infrastructure and from expanded bilateral trade and more tourism.

"Our neighbor Thailand last year welcomed 8 million Chinese tourists, while we in the Philippines received fewer than half a million last year. We need to normalize diplomatic relations with our ancient friend to boost crucial, win-win economic exchanges."

sophiehe@chinadailyhk.com

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