The Philippines Has Yet to See the Economic Dividends from Duterte's Pro-China Stance

A close look at trade, investments and ODA flows between the Philippines and China
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons / King Rodriguez
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Philippines recently for his first state visit to the country, a move widely seen as a demonstration of the benefits of closely cooperating with the rising global power.

The state visit is an opportune time to review economic relations between the two countries. It’s been more than two years since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced a re-alignment in the country’s foreign policy towards greater economic cooperation with China. It’s time to take stock and count the benefits, if any.

Such a review is crucial especially because the expected economic benefits from closer ties with China came at the cost of downplaying the country’s complaints over China’s incursions within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

Indeed, Duterte virtually set aside the Philippines’ victory in the landmark case it filed with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against China’s historic claims over almost the entirety of the South China Sea.

As the infographic on this page shows, however, it seems the economic benefits from closer cooperation with China have yet to happen

Except for an occasional surge due to one-time deals, Chinese foreign direct investments have not entered the country significantly. Concessional official development assistance (ODA) loans from China have even gone down, not up. Meanwhile, Philippine exports to China have remained almost the same while imports from China have gone up sharply, enlarging the trade deficit.

Perhaps, Xi Jinping’s visit will change all that. If so, Filipinos can only hope that change will come soon.

This story originally appeared on edits have been made by the editors.

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