Arroyo set to woo China on trade

By Sarah Toms
BBC correspondent in Manila

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has left for a three-day visit to China in her first foreign trip since she was re-elected in May.

President Arroyo's visit highlights the importance of economic ties with a booming China.

China, with its thriving economy and vast market, is increasingly important to the Philippines.

Last year, China was its sixth biggest trading partner and fastest growing market in many export sectors.

During her visit to Beijing, President Arroyo will meet her Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and former President Jiang Zemin.

A broad range of issues, including security, trade and investment, is on the agenda.

Mrs Arroyo is expected to sign agreements on railway construction, energy exploration and fishing rights.

The Philippines may also urge China to allow joint use of a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, which are also claimed in whole or in part by Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Last year, the Philippine and Chinese national oil companies signed a letter of intent about forming a panel to select areas in the South China Sea suitable for oil and gas exploration.

While there is not likely to be any resolution to the dispute over the Spratlys, the Philippine president will be working to strengthen trade and co-operation with China.

01/09/2004

Bron : BBC News

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