ZHENGZHOU City-- With the Belt and Road Initiative serving as bridge, more 'Made in the Philippines' food products such as dried mangoes, banana chips and sugar-coated 'pili' nuts are expected to reach China's market in the future.
This after Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, have been encouraged to join an exhibition center of the Henan Bonded Logistics Center in Zhengzhou City, capital of Henan province in China.
"We hope your countries especially from Southeast Asia can put food products on this exhibition hall," Sha Fuli, executive staff member of the Zhongdamen Direct Purchase and Experience Center, told 15 journalists from Southeast and South Asia during a recent visit in Henan.
Established in 2010, Henan Bonded Logistic Center is a substantial export-oriented economic service platform located inside Zhengzhou Economical Technology Development Zone which is an important point of national logistics in China.
The Center is also valued as purchase, dispatch and distribution center of Zhongyuan Economic Area and has other functions like bonded storage, export rebates, transit trade, purchase and distribution, simple processing, and value-added service.
At present, nearly 1,000 different kinds of imported products ranging from food and cosmetics to high-end vehicles majority of them were brought in to China through Zhengzhou-Europe block trains are on display inside the exhibition center.
Various food products such as durian candies and fish crackers from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are already on display but none yet from the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
"Right now, we have 30 participating countries. So we are hoping more imported products will be put on display here under the Belt and Road Initiative," Sha told the journalists from South and Southeast Asia.
Henan, a sister province of Tarlac in the Philippines, has important role in pursuing national One Belt and One Road strategy due to its superior geographical location and for being one of China's top grain producers.
Located in the central part of China and known as the Central Plain, Henan is the nation's key integrated transport and logistic hub with three vertical and horizontal railway trunk lines running through the province.
"Henan has made great efforts to integrate itself into the national 'Belt and Road' Initiative by building an international logistic hub connecting the eastern, central and western regions and has strived to reach the goal of buying and selling globally, Li Yingwei, Division Chief of Port Authority of Henan's Provincial Development and Reform Commission, said.
In 2016, Henan's foreign trade volume reached RMB 471.47 billion (roughly PHP3.3 trillion) among which export volume totaled RMB 283.53 billion and import volume worth RMB 187.94 billion.
Henan province has the biggest population in China, similar to the Philippines' over 100 million registered residents.
Li underscored Henan's long history of relation and cooperation with South Asia and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines especially now with this Belt and Road Initiative.
"Henan has cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road in many fields like economic, agriculture, training, infrastructure projects, tourism, culture and education," Li said.
The Belt and Road or One Belt, One Road Initiative was initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visits in Central and Southeast Asian countries in 2013.
The initiative is an ambitious economic vision which aims to resurrect the ancient land and sea trade routes to boost economic progress in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is among the 28 state and government leaders scheduled to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which President Xi will host on May 14-15 this year in Beijing.
President Duterte's upcoming trip to China's capital would be his second since his ascension to presidency in June last year.
Upon invitation of President Xi, President Duterte embarked on a four-day visit to China in October last year, bringing home USD 24 billion worth of infrastructures funding and investment pledges.
President Duterte's first visit to Beijing had revived China-Philippines relations and prompted China to lift restrictions on banana and pineapple imports from the Philippines.
The Philippines-China relations has been rejuvenated, thanks to the diplomatic efforts being made by the leaders of two countries to settle the South China Sea territorial dispute in peaceful manner.
Source: Philippines News Agency