China and the Philippines have agreed to restart the joint commission on commerce and trade to increase trade between the two countries, after their ties were jeopardized by an arbitration case over the South China Sea dispute.
“Even though both countries have disagreements on other issues, it doesn’t mean they are incapable of building better business ties, especially in the fields of trade and investment,” Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said on Aug 17.
The mechanism is a dialogue that addresses commercial and trade issues between the two countries.
Shen’s comments came after Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng met Ramon M Lopez, the Filipino secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, earlier this month.
Both sides agreed to restart a dialogue between governments about economics and trade as soon as possible and to enhance cooperation on trade, investment, tourism and infrastructure development, Shen said.
The Filipino secretary of trade and industry also accepted his Chinese counterpart’s invitation to visit China in the near future.
This is the first time for the two ministers to meet since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office at the end of June.
China and the Philippines also reached consensus to speed up the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Shen said.
Even though the total trade volume between China and the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations dropped 7.1 percent year-on-year to $173.57 billion between January and May, trade between China and the Philippines grew 5.9 percent during the same period, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
Trade between China and the Philippines amounted to $45.65 billion in 2015, up 2.7 percent on a year-on-year basis.
The Philippines mainly ships semiconductor and agricultural products including bananas, coconuts, rice, mining and aquatic products to China. Transport equipment, construction machinery, electronics, garments and lighting products are China’s main exports to the Philippines.