By Genalyn Kabiling
SEOUL — The Philippines is looking forward to increased trade and investments from South Korea during President Duterte’s three-day official visit here.
Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Raul Hernandez said the President is expected to encourage South Koreans businessmen to consider the country as an investment destination during a business forum on Tuesday.
Hernandez said they hope the President’s meeting with the Korean business community would be successful and lead to more foreign direct investments in the coming years. The Philippine President is in Seoul for his first official visit upon the invitation of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“The President’s meeting with the business community is one of the highlights of the visit of the President in South Korea and we foresee that his meeting with the CEOs and other businessmen and presidents of other big companies will be a good opportunity for the President to promote and to sell the Philippines to the business people and investors here in Korea,” said during a media interview here.
“I have no doubt that he will do it very excellently and also, we hope that this meeting will translate to increasing or increasing bilateral trade and investments. And we also hope that this meeting will increase Korean foreign direct investments in the few years to come,” he said.
At present, Hernandez said South Korea is the seventh largest trading partner of the Philippines with a total trade of about US$10.6 billion. It is also fifth largest official development assistance partner with US$570 million in loans and grants for the year 2017.
South Korea is also the country’s top source of tourists reaching 1.6 million in 2017.
Apart from trade cooperation, the President is also expected to push for closer tourism cooperation between the countries.
“South Korea, as you know, is the number one source of tourist in the Philippines. They are one of our best and strongest partners and friends in the region,” Hernandez said.
After attending a business forum organized for the Korean business community, Duterte is also expected to attend the Philippine Food Festival on Tuesday.
Hernandez said the President would witness the launch of Philippine agriculture products at E-Mart headquarters, one of the biggest supermarket chains in Korea.
“South Korea is one of the Philippines’ strongest friends and partners in the region and our bilateral relations spanning 69 years,” he said.
He said they hope the country’s trade, security, labor, agriculture, and other cooperation ties with South Korea would “get stronger and deeper” amid the President’s visit here.