In northern China’s Tianjin city, a mega-mall covering an area of over 500,000 square meters is one of the world’s largest shopping destinations. This is a masterpiece of SM, a retail giant in the Philippines that has been in business for over 60 years.
After nearly two years of operation, SM’s Tianjin mall has seen more than 100 percent year-on-year growth in foot traffic. Steven T. Tan, chief operating officer of SM Supermalls, said working closely with local partners is key to success. By cooperating with local businesses, they provide services that suit the growing and diversified needs of locals. And the government offers them assistance in transportation and much more.
The Filipino company wants to go into all opportunities that China can offer, yet it’s not just about them making a profit. Statistics show that some of their tenants’ business performance has greatly developed along with the mall. And they are increasing employment opportunities and taxes for the local government.
In Tianjin, the mall now serves as a catalyst for vitalizing new areas and creating economic growth in the city. Moreover, it creates a platform for more Filipino brands and products to come in.
In recent years, many Filipino companies like SM have sought business opportunities in China as the country opens up and its economy upgrades. Authorities say bilateral trade between the two nations is growing by double digits and investment is growing even faster, at a rate of triple digits.
Glenn G. Penaranda, the commercial counselor of Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in China, said that these numbers as well as the friendly relations, the frequent exchange of officials, and now the increasing engagement with private enterprises, indicates that the bilateral relationship is in its best state, providing a platform for continued expansion.
Some are catching onto the reciprocal trend. BDO Unibank, the largest bank in the Philippines has opened a China office, serving the banking needs of Chinese companies and individuals who invest in the Philippines. Wu Tianpeng, chief representative at its Beijing office said their business volume had increased in terms of market research, consulting and liaisons.
More and more Chinese companies, especially small and medium-sized companies, are seeking commercial opportunities in the Philippines but are unfamiliar with their investment or legal environment. “Out ‘one-stop’ services help them realize their goals,” Wu added.
Deals signed between both sides have already made the objective clear – to steer and promote rapid, stable and orderly trade and economic cooperation.
The Filipinos in China believe the Chinese president’s visit, followed by more exchanges of companies and organizations, will result in opportunities for relation to grow bigger, deeper and stronger.