No delegation from Davao Chamber in 4-day state visit to China; invitation came too late

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Oct) – No delegation from Davao City’s business community has been sent to join in the four-day state visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to China, which started October 18 until October 21, to assist him and his key senior officials secure concessions to enter the Chinese market.

The reason: the invitation came too late.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industries Inc. (DCCCII) president Bonifacio Tan told MindaNews in a telephone interview on Wednesday that he and John Gaisano, the chamber’s board chairman, signified interest to join the delegation last week.

He said they were not invited by the government but it was the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the DCCCII being an affiliate member, who asked them if they will be sending any representatives to the China state visit.

“We always made a follow-up with the PCCI what we have to do because we also want to prepare earlier, but they only told us to wait,” Tan lamented.

The invitation finally came Friday last week, Oct. 14, when they received a call from the central office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) asking them to submit additional requirements and $800 for the round trip tickets.

At that time, Tan said they were still in Manila after attending the 42nd Philippine Business Conference & Expo of the PCCI held Oct. 12-13, to receive the “Most Outstanding Chamber of Mindanao and of the Philippines” awards at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.

He said their flight schedule back to Davao City was Saturday, and the delegation to China was leaving Tuesday, Oct. 18, leaving them only Monday to work on everything.

Yet another group, the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), did not also send delegations because the invitation came late, according to PBGEA executive director Stephen Antig.

He said he has no knowledge who would represent the banana sector in the four-day state visit but he hopes that the outcome will be for China to “further relax the non-tariff measures and investment in agriculture.”

In his message during the public hearing on the review of the minimum wage at the Apo View Hotel on Tuesday, Antig said that they welcomed China’s lifting of suspension on the Philippine bananas.

Last October 7, Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol said the lifting will cover suspension on Sumifru, Banana Brothers, Inc., Evita Banana Trading Company, Inc., Nader and Ibrahim S/O Hassan Phils., Inc., Tagum Agricultural Development Trade Co., Inc., TVEM Links International Co., Stanfilco Division of DOLE Philippines, Inc., Phil pack, Continental Farm Corporation, and Lapanday Diversified Products Corporations.

Romeo Montenegro, deputy executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said on Sunday about 50 Mindanao businessmen are expected to go to China from the “agribusiness, manufacturing, tourism services, infrastructure development and construction industries, among others.”

In Beijing, the President will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and will meet separately with National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Duterte, who arrived in China on October 18, will deliver his keynote address at the Trade and Investment Forum on October 21 before Filipino and Chinese investors.

Tan said he received the PBC award at the Marriott Hotel in the presence of President Duterte, who was keynote speaker.

“This is the third time that we are awarded as such under the City Based category. This will surely serve as an inspiration for us to work harder as it has been for the past years. Know for certain that we will stay faithful in our commitment to strengthen the business community in the city,” he said.

The press release added that the “Davao Chamber cements its legacy as one of the best chambers not only locally but also internationally being consistently awarded as most outstanding in Mindanao and recognized by the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI). Its annual flagship event, the Davao Agri-Trade Expo, which recently concluded last September 24, has successfully showcased the golden crops of Mindanao.” (Antonio Colina IV / MindaNews)