Good trips as investment lures

TOURISM could be Cebu Province’s champion to lure Chinese investors to pour in more investments here.

This was the advice of several Chinese trade officials who visited the province this year.

Cebu Province Investments and Promotions Office (CPIPO) officer-in-charge Floreza Duque-Alpuerto, in an interview, said that the trade delegation from China invited the province and its Cebu business community to join some of China’s trade expositions this year and highlight the province’s natural charm and rich resources.

“Tourism is one of the best entry points we could use to bring in investments from China,” said Alpuerto, adding that the Fujian province of China had offered Cebu a free booth where it could showcase its tourism products in the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) on Sept. 8 to 11.

The province of Fujian is the lead organizer.

“We were constantly told to showcase Cebu’s tourism, to highlight our people and natural jewels,” she said.

A separate delegation from the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai (CPIT Shanghai), led by its chairman Yang Jiantong, also invited Cebuanos to participate in the Belt and Road Brand Expo Shanghai on June 29 to July 1 and the China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Nov. 5 to 10.

Yang advised the Province to highlight its tourism potentials during the trade exhibits.

At least 256,880 Chinese tourists arrived in the country during the first two months of this year, the most improved market at an impressive 56.44 percent growth rate, according to the Department of Tourism.

Last year, the Philippines ranked ninth on the top destinations for Chinese outbound tourists, according to TravelChinaGuide, a Chinese travel agency.

The DOT targets to bring in 1.5 million Chinese arrivals for this year.

Fujian and Cebu will seal a sisterhood agreement this September, following the successful visit of the Fujian delegation in February last year.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III is set to fly to Fujian, China for the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA), which will be in time for the CIFIT, China’s only international investment promotion event aimed at facilitating bilateral investment.

Opportunities ahead

The MOA signing this September will also include a visit to the cities of Quanzhou, Putian, and Zhangzhou, that also seek to forge sister-city agreements with the cities of Danao, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.

With the sisterhood agreement, Alpuerto said, Fujian is offering three cultural exchange opportunities, including the Fujian Asean government officials/international friendship state and province liaison officers’ seminar; a government scholarship program for students from Cebu to study in institutions of higher education in Fujian; as well as a two-way cultural exchange for the youth from different sectors this June and July.

Fujian is one of the more affluent provinces in China with many industries spanning tea production, clothing, and sports apparel and equipment manufacturing.

In 2015, it landed on the 11th spot as one of the largest provincial economies in China with 2.6 trillion yuan or $419.35 billion.

In terms of agriculture, rice is the main crop of Fujian, supplemented by sweet potatoes, wheat and barley. The province also leads in longan production and is also a major producer of lychees and tea. Shellfish production is also prominent there.

Fujian is also home to a number of economic and technological development zones.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that Chinese business owners remain upbeat about Philippine investment prospects.

The agency welcomed $9.8 billion worth of investment pledges from Chinese companies during the recent state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Areas of interest

These investments are in the areas of construction, electronics, agriculture, tourism, and pharmaceuticals, which could provide an estimated 10,800 job opportunities if realized.

“As one of the world’s top investment destinations, the Philippines enjoys the confidence of foreign direct investors. And due to our enhanced bilateral and trade relations with China, Chinese companies have increasingly expressed interest in investing in our country,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a statement.

Total approved investments from China grew by 53.61 percent from P1.52 billion in 2016 to P2.33 billion in 2017. Industries that played a big role in this growth include manufacturing, electricity, services, and finance.

In 2017, China ranked as country’s top trading partner, fourth largest export market, and top import supplier.

Philippine exports to China grew by 9.73 percent due to the increase in exports of digital monolithic integrated circuits, cathodes of refined copper, and other fixed capacitators.

Meanwhile, DTI is strengthening its presence in China by activating three offices and deploying commercial officers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. (KOC)