China and the Philippines signed on Wednesday purchase agreements that commit Chinese businessmen to buy 1.7 billion U.S. dollars worth of fruits and other agricultural products from the Philippines.
Zhao Jianhua, the Chinese ambassador to the Philippine, said the agreements signed on Wednesday "is an effort to balance the trade" between China and the Philippines.
He added that the signing of the purchasing agreements was the "advanced result" of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China in October last year.
The agreements will be the first of many as China also seeks to import more non-food goods such as chemicals and related products. China has increased its fruit imports such as mangoes and pineapples from the Philippines after Duterte's visit to Beijing.
During the last five months alone, statistics showed that the bilateral trade has reached 100 million U.S. dollars.
Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said discussions to further increase trade cooperations between Beijing and Manila and Chinese-funded infrastructure projects are underway and moving forward.
The signing of purchase agreements between Chinese and Philippine companies is a concrete example of the thriving trade relations between the two neighboring countries.
Philippine goods up for trading include organic coconut products, coco fiber, aqua marines products, ethanol, dried sorghum, garments, textiles, fatty alcohol, fruit, copper cathodes, potassium sulfate, among others, according to the agreements. "The past year was a drastic development in our relationship with China.
Now, there's no looking back. When we signed the 6-year JCETC we have agreed to further strengthen our relationship which will go beyond trading," Lopez said, referring to the Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation (JCETC) signed early March.
Last March 7, Lopez and Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, who was in Manila for a visit, discussed ways to deepen trade and investment relations between the two countries.
Zhong's visit paved the way for the reconvening of the JCETC, the official bilateral mechanism for discussion of trade, investments and economic cooperation.
The JCETC was convened after a five-year hiatus and serves as a quick follow-through of Duterte's state visit to China last Oct. 2016.
Lopez and Zhong discussed the Six-Year Development Program for Economic and Trade Cooperation that will serve as the overall framework for economic relations from 2017-2022.
Both sides agreed on important initiatives geared towards improving overall levels of trade and investment between the two countries, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement last week.