BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- China will explore the possibility of establishing an economic and trade cooperation zone in the Philippines as part of the two countries' efforts to advance bilateral ties, a Chinese official said Thursday.
China is willing to increase imports from the Philippines and encourage Chinese firms to expand investment there, Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesperson Sun Jiwen told a press conference.
The two countries will also sign a pact on economic and technological cooperation for the 2017-2022 period, and China will consider providing financial support for infrastructure projects in the Philippines, Sun said.
The moves were discussed during a visit by an MOC delegation to the Philippines this week, following the consensus reached by the two countries' leaders on economic cooperation during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to China last month, according to the spokesperson.
Duterte's visit came amid deteriorating China-Philippines ties due to the country's unilateral filing of the South China Sea arbitration case against China, which was initiated by Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
Bilateral trade between China and the Philippines rose 4.2 percent year on year to 38.6 billion U.S. dollars in the first 10 months of 2016, customs data show.
Chinese firms have invested billions of dollars in multiple economic and trade cooperation zones in foreign countries in a bid to promote economic ties.