Bank of China unveils expansion in PH market

Bank of China Manila said it will increase its loan portfolio by more than 20 percent this year as well as hire more workers to support its growth in the country as it anticipates more Chinese firms investing and expanding operations here, especially with the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal.

 In a webinar “Philippines-China Economic Relations: Quo Vadis”,  Deng Jun  revealed that they are expecting to increase its loan portfolio for the Philippines by more than 20 percent to continue expanding operations in the country as he expressed confidence on the Philippine economy.  The webinar is also part of the preparation of the visit of China's top diplomat Wang Yi to the Philippines. Wang is Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister.

Deng, however, said that Bank of China will not open new branches in the country, but satellite office only as the bank will prioritize the promotion of digital solutions. Bank of China is also hiring more people.

“Although there is pandemic and times are very challenging to all of us, I am still positive on the Philippine economy. I know that some Chinese people cannot fly to come here because of the pandemic but they are expanding their businesses in the Philippines. I believe there will be more investments from China and this is an opportunity for Bank of China to promote business,” Deng said.

He said Chinese firms are interested in varied industries in the Philippines particularly in electronics, power and energy, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism. So far, more than 100 existing Chinese businesses in the country are already employing more than 40,000 Filipinos.

In terms of RCEP, the first project the bank will be supporting is the promotion of e-trade with their head office. He expects to launch digital solutions and e-commerce services before end this year to further facilitate trade.

“The Bank of China group is ready to support to provide more opportunities of all countries involved with RCEP,” he said. With the rise of e-trade, which is one of the main thrusts of RCEP, the bank is in the process of launching digital solutions to provide more convenient and financial services to the region.

“We will have new services like online foreign exchange transaction conversion and digital payment,” said Deng stressing they seek to serve as a bridge between Filipinos and Chinese.

In his presentation, Deng showed the various infrastructure projects that the Chinese government has supported in the country through loans, official development assistance (ODA) and grants. He showed that China’s ODA to PH has reached $2.059 billion for the period 2016-2020 for infrastructure (rails, roads, bridges, water); flood control management; and local governance capability development.

While Chinese companies are doing very well in the country and are happy with their local partners,

Deng said it was not easy when they first arrived in the market.

“To be honest, it is not easy for them to do business in the Philippines because of different laws and regulations, and local practices that are different from China,” he said. Secondly, Chinese firms also faced insufficient and lack of skilled workers. So, they have to partner with universities and provide training tow workers.

But overall, he said most Chinese expats in the country “have very good life in the Philippines and Filipinos are very friendly to them.”

Aside from the financial aspect, he said that Bank of China’s biggest initiative in the country is to serve as a bridge of communication and cooperation.

“Our biggest cooperation is that shared culture leads to better understanding of each other. We need partners to make remarkable impact as we build relationships,” he said. As such, the Chinese government supports people to people exchange programs.