November 27, 2018
THE Memorandum on Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) signed between the Philippines and China will be in force until President Duterte’s term expires in 2022.
Under the signed MOU, the Philippines and China have agreed to cooperate on areas of policy dialogue and communication, infrastructure development and connectivity, cooperation on trade and investment, financial cooperation, and socio-cultural exchanges.
“The participants shall work together, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, with the strictest respect for national laws, rules, regulations and policies, so as to realize sustainable growth and development through the Belt and Road Initiative and translate economic complementarities and people-to-people exchanges into advantages of practical cooperation and the sound sustainable development of all countries involved,” read the signed copy of the MOU released by Malacañang on Monday.
In infrastructure development and connectivity, the signatories have agreed to encourage infrastructure cooperation and interconnectivity in the transportation, telecommunication and energy sectors, among other areas of mutual interest.
Participants will also “enhance cooperation and exchanges to improve trade flows, investment environments, and adhere to respective national Customs rules, regulations,, documentation and control to facilitate lawful trade.”
The parties have also agreed to expand the use of local currencies in bilateral trade and investment and provide financial support and financial services for that purpose.
The two countries also agreed to establish a cooperation mechanism to deal with financial risk and crisis and increase exchange and cooperation between credit investigation regulators and interbank institutional investors.
The termination of the agreement could be initiated if either any of the parties issue a notification through diplomatic channels, at least three months before expiration date.
Furthermore, it is also specified that the termination of the MOU will not affect any programs being implemented and programs to be implemented until their completion according to the timetable agreed upon.
Nonetheless, the MOU may be renewed for a subsequent four-year period through a written notice sent through diplomatic channels before the previous four-year period expires.
With an announced investment as high as $8 trillion, the BRI is a massive trade and infrastructure project that aims to link Asia, Europe, Africa, covering at least 68 countries.
Some sectors have already warned that the Philippines may fall in the “trap” of a so-called Chinese debt diplomacy, and compromise its sovereignty in exchange for investments for its infrastructure program.
However, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that committing to the BRI will not compromise the country’s sovereignty.
In August, the Malaysian government