Source:  Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines’ public-private partnership (PPP) road show delegation got a “positive response” and “strong interest” from Chinese government and business leaders, according to the Philippine Embassy in Beijing.

In a report to the home office, the embassy said that during a meeting on Tuesday in the Chinese capital, Vice Premier Wang Qishan assured his Filipino guests that China was “open” to the PPP concept and would look closely into the opportunities offered by the program.

Chinese business leaders, on the other hand, expressed confidence in their firms’ capabilities to take part successfully in PPP infrastructure projects worth at least $12 billion.

The PPP team was composed of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Armando Tetangco Jr., among others.

China was the “first stop” of the Aquino administration’s economic managers, who have launched a program aimed at inviting foreign participants to competitive public bidding for infrastructure projects.

Besides Wang, the Philippine government officials also met with Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren, Transport Minister Li Shenglin, Commerce Minister Chen Deming, and People’s Bank of China Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan.

The embassy quoted Purisima as having told Wang that “the Philippines attaches importance to its economic relations with China.”

Purisima had noted that “a key agenda of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III is to increase economic growth and reduce poverty.”

To achieve that goal, Purisima stressed the need to “develop the overall infrastructure in the Philippines.”

“We invite state-owned enterprises and the private sector and seek the support of the Chinese government in this program to improve the overall infrastructure in the Philippines,” he also said.

Before their meeting with Wang, the PPP team had “fruitful discussions” with senior officials of the Chinese ministries of commerce, finance and transport and the People’s Bank of China.

They also met with executives of several Chinese companies.

“We are neighbors. We are much closer. We have more interests together. We hope to have more active engagement not only between the Philippines and China, but also between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China. We look forward to bringing our bilateral relations together to a higher level,” said Purisima.

Purisima and Wang “agreed that China and the Philippines can work together on a wide range of mutual interests because they are located in what should be the most economically vibrant region in the world in the next three to five decades,” said the embassy.

The mission quoted Wang as having said “there are many ways where China and the Philippines can work together at the bilateral, multilateral and international levels.”

“The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement is a very important platform for both sides to work together. We can also work together through ASEAN and the (Asia Pacific Economic Conference),” Wang also said.

In a separate meeting with Chinese business leaders, Purisima said the Philippines “is bullish and open for business” as he also encouraged Chinese investors to check out investment opportunities here.

“The Philippines produces over 10 percent of the world’s semi-conductors. It is second in business process outsourcing, next to India. It is fourth in shipbuilding, behind South Korea, China and Japan. It has the fifth-biggest reserves of minerals in the world. In short, there are a lot of investment opportunities in the Philippines. More importantly, as a neighbor, the Philippines is very close to China, culturally and geographically,” Purisima told their hosts.

For his part, Domingo noted the “strong expression of interest in China on the massive infrastructure requirements of the Philippines.”

Citing the positive results of their official visit to China, Domingo expressed optimism that “business delegations from both sides will be shuttling between the two countries in the coming months.”