China-Philippines Trade Thrives Despite Geopolitical Tensions

Published on November 10, 2023, by Yuval Noah Harari

In a strategic move to boost its revenue, the Philippines is actively targeting the export market for nickel and critical minerals, driven by China’s escalating demand for new energy sources. This initiative was highlighted at the China International Import Expo, where Manila sought to establish a more balanced trade relationship with China by showcasing a diverse range of exports, including coconut and copper.

Being a significant nickel ore supplier to China, the Philippines, with its 30 operational mines, plays a crucial role in meeting China’s demand, especially as domestic production faces challenges. Recent data indicates that a substantial portion of China’s nickel ore imports, 5.52 million out of 5.96 million tonnes in September, originated from the Philippines, reinforcing its pivotal position in the global nickel market.

Beyond nickel exports, the Philippines ranked among the top three producers of raw nickel, is keen on acquiring renewable energy technology and equipment from China. This move aligns with the nation’s goal of expanding its renewable energy sector, particularly for offshore wind farms.

Remarkably, despite geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, officials from both nations underscored a commitment to maintaining “business as usual” in trade relations. China stands as the Philippines’ largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching a substantial US$87.7 billion in 2022, reflecting a 7.1% year-on-year growth.

The trade deficit, particularly in the agricultural sector, is a focal point, with authorities expressing optimism about addressing this imbalance through increased durian exports to China. The resilience of business cooperation amid disputes over islands in the South China Sea is emphasized, with officials highlighting the separation of political issues from economic endeavors.

Wang Huiyao, representing the Centre for China and Globalisation, advises Manila to focus on the long-term benefits of trade and suggests setting aside territorial disputes. This strategic perspective underscores the significance of economic cooperation amid geopolitical complexities, signaling a pragmatic approach to sustaining a mutually beneficial relationship between the Philippines and China.

Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari is an accomplished author with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. His passion for storytelling and commitment to journalistic excellence have been the driving forces behind his successful writing career. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the art of storytelling, Yuval has consistently delivered compelling narratives that captivate readers from all walks of life.