How Philippine entrepreneurs can profit from the trillion-dollar ‘Belt & Road’

 (The Philippine Star) |

San Miguel beer and Oishi snacks in Belarus? BDO and Metrobank in Bangladesh or Ukraine? PLDT and Emperador in Algeria or Sudan? PAL and Cebu Pacific flying to Sri Lanka’s $13 billion Colombo Port City (now being built by China) or to Eastern Europe?

How can more of our MSME entrepreneurs benefit from the trillion-dollar “Belt & Road” infrastructure plans proposed by China President Xi Jinping to boost free trade? Twenty-nine heads of state like President Rody Duterte, plus heads of the IMF, World Bank, and the UN attended the May 14-15 summit in Beijing.

Six days before the summit, US-educated Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua held a very well-received dinner dialogue with the young Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs of the Anvil Business Club on May 5 at the ballroom of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel to discuss this and other topics.

Sell more to Asia, Europe & Africa

Apart from tapping the world’s biggest and increasingly affluent consumer market of China’s 1.4 billion people, how can we profit from the phenomenon of whole regions opening up to trade and investments via new trains, seaports, highways, better Internet and telecommunications to be built by the Belt & Road plan?

How can we sell more to oil-rich Central Asia, east and central Europe, Africa, Russia, and South Asia, which should become our new markets for Philippine exports, services, tourism, OFWs, etc.?

Europe-educated geopolitics analyst Celso Cainglet said, “Let us not forget that China’s Belt & Road plans can help finance our Philippine infrastructure projects under Dutertenomics, and MSMEs can benefit by providing allied services. The new infrastructures can also finally make inclusive economic growth a reality.”

Global consultancy McKinsey said Belt & Road will involve about 65 percent of the world’s population, one-third of its GDP and can help move a quarter of global trade and services. Xi’s plan has been called “the biggest development push in world history.”

How can we leverage President Duterte’s reputation as a strong leader and our Philippine economy’s dynamism to overcome our geographic distance from Eurasia and join this Belt & Road plan?

Here are “six golden opportunities” Ambassador Zhao Jianhua cited in the ongoing normalization of the ties between the Philippines and China, though he stressed that there many more opportunities:

1. Better Philippine-China ties to boost trade. Ambassador Zhao said that normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries “has ushered in a new era for bilateral economic partnership and cooperation.” The envoy revealed China has become the Philippines’ No. 1 trading partner, and that 171 out of the world’s 193 countries also count China as their No. 1 trade partner.

He said, “To transform our leaders’ consensus into concrete results, the two countries are working hand in hand to implement a series of cooperation projects in infrastructure, trade and investment, industrial parks, agriculture, tourism, etc. Some are already delivering tangible benefits to our two peoples, including the coming of more Chinese tourists, trade deals and investments. Many more business potentials are waiting to be tapped by talented young entrepreneurs of our two countries.”

2. The Belt & Road Initiative and China’s economic growth offer business opportunities. The envoy said, “Despite a sluggish global economy, China’s economic growth reached 6.7 percent in 2016. With the fundamentals remaining sound and stable, China’s economy is undergoing major changes in terms of development model, economic structure and drivers of growth. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the “Belt and Road” initiative, “boosting policy coordination, regional connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds.” Read more…

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