PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to further strengthen the cooperation of the two countries in terms of trade, agriculture, infrastructure and other areas.

In a joint statement, Marcos and Xi highlighted the importance of promoting a more balanced trade between the two countries by facilitating greater market access for Philippine exports into China.

On Thursday, citing the agricultural sector “at the forefront” of the post-pandemic economic recovery strategy, Marcos signed the protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of fresh Philippine durian into China.

Marcos secured a total of $2.09 billion in purchase intentions for Philippine fruit exports, which also covers coconut and bananas, among others.

He said at least four companies had expressed their intention to purchase more Philippine tropical fruit products, especially durian.

Marcos said several Chinese companies also expressed intention to invest in coconut, the livestock sector, and develop durian as a plantation crop.

“These will generate much-needed employment, enrich the sector’s research and development activities and capabilities, enhance domestic and international trade, and ensure food security at affordable prices,” said Marcos.

In 2021, 58 percent of the country’s exports to China was composed of fresh fruits, dominated by Cavendish bananas, followed by fresh pineapples, Lady Finger bananas, Solo papayas, Hass avocados, and young green coconuts.

On Wednesday, the Malacañang said Marcos also signed 14 bilateral agreements, including deals on agriculture, infrastructure, development cooperation, maritime security, and tourism, among others.

This includes the joint action plan for 2023-2025 on agricultural and fisheries cooperation between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, as well as a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure development strategy to invest in nearly 150 countries and international organizations, enhancing connectivity and facilitate smoother trade flows between Asia, Europe and Africa that was launched by Xi in 2013.

Also among of which were for the handover of certificate of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technological Cooperation Phase III (Philscat-TCP III), the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China and the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on digital and information and communications technology (ICT) cooperation and the handover certificate of two China-aid bridge projects in Manila — the Binondo-Intramuros bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge.

Marcos also signed loan agreements for the mixed-credit financing (US Dollar and Renminbi) of three priority bridge projects under the public works department.

The Malacañang said Marcos bagged $22.8 billion in investment pledges for the Philippine energy sector, agribusiness and strategic monitoring.

He, however, assured the Chinese businessmen of the Philippine government’s commitment to support business activities in the country noting that the country’s economic fundamentals remain strong and have been steadily improving. (SunStar Philippines)