Philippines will maintain trade and economic ties with US, says Trade Minister
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China Reuters

The Philippines and China have signed a total of 22 economic agreements in the last six months, which is expected to help the Southeast Asian country become the latter's largest trading partner of this year.

The billion dollar worth agreements will cover fresh trade investments in various industries between the two countries such as manufacturing, agribusiness, trade, finance, hotels, telecommunications, tourism, transportation and infrastructure.

In 2016, US and Japan were the leading trading partners of Philippines with bilateral value, registering USD 11.7 billion and USD 8.7 billion respectively.China, on the other hand, ranked fourth with a trading value USD 6.2 billion.

The Filipino government is revisiting the trading records with China as the previous forecast and the recent increase of fresh imports and exports could make the Asian giant a strong trading partner.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, told journalists in Manila, that China and Philippines have entered, a "global period of fast development".

The Chinese ambassador commended Filipino foreign minister Alan Peter Cayetano for doing a good job. Cayetano is in China to meet with the country's diplomatic team to discuss the South China Sea and other enhancement subjects relative to Philippine-China relations.

Zhao also said that China is open to having a friendly and candid exchange of communication through bilateral approach despite the ruling of the UN-backed arbitration court's decision that the Philippines have sovereignty rights over some parts of the South China Sea. China on the other hand, repeatedly said it will ignore the Hague-based court ruling.

However, despite the decision of the Hague court, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has not asserted the position to contest China's construction of structures with Philippines' sovereign territory but instead focus on how to revive economic relations with Asia's largest economy.

Duterte's predecessor, former President Benigno Aquino has been vocal against China's expansion into the disputed the South China Sea but all of these changed when Duterte became the president and publicly announced he is aligning himself with China.