City Works to Boost Trade with China

Apr. 04, 2006

By Germelina A. Lacorte

DAVAO CITY — Davao is looking forward to the signing of a sister city agreement with Nanning, a city in Guanxi province in China, to access opportunities in that countrys fast-growing consumer market in the future.

Davao officials here are trying to forge a sister city agreement with Nanning City to boost trade, economic and tourism activities between the two regions.

“Just as Nanning will be Davao’s gateway to China, Davao will also be Nanning’s gateway to the East Asean Growth Area (Eaga),” Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte told Nanning city delegates here last week, referring to the backdoor economic polygon composed of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (BIMP).

Both the cities of Davao and Nanning share similarities, according to Lin Guoqiang, Nanning city mayor, who arrived here to express their intent for the sister city agreement with Davao. “The cities of Nanning and Davao are looking at each other all these years,” he said. “As China embarks on economic reforms and with its policy of opening up the markets, we want to strengthen our relationship with other foreign governments,” Lin told a luncheon meeting last week hosted by the Davao city government.

“My delegation will be the beginning of friendship between Davao and the Southern City of China,” he said.

Earlier, Davao had proposed a sisterhood agreement with China’s cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong but the proposal did not push through. Population of the three Chinese cities were too large a match for Davao’s 1.5 million, according to Councilor Mabel Sunga-Acosta, chair of the City Council for international affairs.

Instead, the city of Nanning responded to the proposal. Nanning is a city of 6.5 million, located near Hongkong and the border with Vietnam, according to Lin, who headed the delegations composed of Nanning city officials and an English interpreter.

The agreement will hopefully give the business community access to China’s lucrative consumer market, according to Sebastian Angliongto, a Chinese-Filipino businessman in Davao who used to chair the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco).

“Once the city sister agreement in place, it would be easier for Davao traders to do business with their counterparts in China,” said William Go, president of Davao’s Chinese-Filipino group Kaisa.

China currently enjoys an annual economic growth rate of 12 percent, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economy, said Angliongto. China’s high economic growth rate and its entry into the world’s market economy will spur the demand for English-speaking manpower, which the Philipines can easily supply.

“As competition in the world market gears up, there will be a high demand for English teachers and English proficient manpower in China,” he said.

Angliongto said Davao has been producing a pool of English proficient manpower in recent years, making it one of the favorite place for call centers to set up in Mindanao.

Nanning city will host the China-ASEAN International Convention and Exhibition late this year. Lin invited Davao officials to join Nanning’s international festival for folksongs in October this year, where folk singers and performers from Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, will perform. (Germelina A. Lacorte/

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