President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has signed a bilateral agreement with China during his state visit that is expected to revive the country’s steel industry with the setting up of a liquid steel plant.
“Kung titingnan po natin iyong 14 agreements, nakikita po naman natin na mukhang solid naman ang mga proyekto na nasa table ngayon. Halimbawa po, iyong agreement ng Baowu Steel at SteelAsia (If we look over the 14 agreements, we can see some solid projects on the table. One example is the agreement between Baowu and SteelAsia),” said Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime FlorCruz in a press briefing on Saturday.
“Ang ini-expect po natin ay magpapasok ng 1.5 to 2 billion dollar investment para magtayo ng unang-unang liquid steel plant (We are expecting this to pour in 1.5 to 2 billion dollars of investment to set up the first liquid steel plant),” the envoy said.
Ambassador FlorCruz further noted the Philippines is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia which does not produce its own steel plants.
“So ang plano pong ito ay mag-uumpisa iyong ating steel industry. Kasi kung wala tayong steel industry na sarili, iyong manufacturing natin, lalo lagi tayong reliant on imports (So this plan will start our steel industry. Because if we don’t have one, our manufacturing sector will always be reliant on imports),” FlorCruz said, adding that the project is expected to produce from 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.
The 14 bilateral agreements inked during the chief executive’s January 3-5 China visit were on agriculture, infrastructure, development cooperation, maritime security and tourism, among others.
The ambassador pointed out that the bilateral deals are aligned with the goals and needs of the government.
“Makikita po aligned ito sa ating pangangailangan dito. Hindi lang po ito dahil gustong magbenta ang China kung hindi dahil po kailangan natin at magbe-benefit tayo sa mga ganitong agreement (We can see these [agreements] are aligned to our needs. These are not just because China wants to sell but because we need these and we will benefit from these agreements),” the ambassador pointed out.
Aside from the bilateral deals, USD 22.8 billion in investment pledges were secured by President Marcos during his roundtable meetings with various Chinese companies, which include USD 1.72 billion for agribusiness, USD 13.76 billion for renewable energy (RE) and USD 7.32 billion for strategic monitoring (electric vehicle, mineral processing).
The Philippine envoy expressed hope that the deals secured by the Marcos administration would deliver tangible benefits and concrete projects.
“Paano po natin ma-assure na mangyayari ‘yung pinapangako? Hindi po madali. Kasi kailangan ng follow through at ‘yun ang importante. ‘Yung mga pledges po, una, ay ang tingin ko nanggagaling sa taas. Hindi lamang ng mga kumpanya, mga Chinese companies na nag-sign (How can we ensure that these pledges will materialize? It is not easy because we need to make a follow through. The pledges, first of all, came from the higher-ups, so it’s not only the Chinese companies that signed them. This time I can assume that the pledges and memorandums of understanding are sanctioned by higher officials),” FlorCruz said.
“This time po nararamdaman ko na ‘yung mga pledges, ‘yung mga MOUs, ay talagang senyales ng mga opisyal sa taas na ‘this time we deliver, we deliver tangible benefits, tangible projects’ (This time I feel that these pledges, the MOUs, are given the go-signal by higher-ups that ‘this time, we deliver, we deliver tangible benefits, tangible projects’),” Ambassador FlorCruz added. #