Trade, infra, border control deals up in China visit

Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is set to sign five agreements with China during President Duterte’s upcoming visit to Beijing this month, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

In an interview, Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven said the two countries are scheduled to finalize five agreements, which cover trade, border control and infrastructure.

Joven said two of the five agreements would involve the Bureau of Customs (BOC), specifically the improvement of its border control capabilities, and strengthened cooperation with its Chinese counterpart.

“There are two related to BOC. First is the X-ray (machine) donation by the Chinese government to the BOC, and the second is the cooperation between the Chinese customs and the Philippine BOC,” Joven told reporters.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the second agreement would come in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will cover trade issues, like the shipment of illegal cigarette making machines from China to the Philippines, as well as trade data discrepancy.

“We are going to talk to their Customs about a number of issues and one of them is going to be these cigarette making machines. We are not certain that all of them come from China but our best guess is that majority of them come from China,” Dominguez said.

He said the two countries would also work on reconciling their trade data to avoid discrepancies.

Meanwhile, Joven said the third agreement, to be signed by the DOF and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), would lay out the framework by which the Philippines can tap loans from China.

“Fourth is the segment of the PNR (Philippine National Railways) South Long Haul. Basically, it’s the project management consultant of the PNR. And the fifth one relates to phytosanitary inspection,” he said.

China has pledged $9 billion in assistance to the Philippines during Duterte’s visit to the country in October 2016.

So far, Beijing, through the Export-Import Bank of China, has provided a $62.09-million loan for the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project and another $211.21-milion loan for the New Centennial Water Source- Kaliwa Dam Project.

It has also extended a $63.13 million grant for the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon Bridges, which are implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways to help ease traffic in Metro Manila.

Earlier, the DOF said the government has submitted to Beijing two baskets of infrastructure projects that could be considered for Chinese financing.

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