CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Laus Group of Companies, the largest auto conglomerate in central and north Luzon, signed last July 21, a historic trade agreement with Haima, one of China’s renowned automotive brands. “Haima, which has been with us for more than seven years and is based in Hainan, is the only automotive company that’s there and has been tasked to promote the road initiative. And this will be very big for Haima Philippines and for the Laus Group,” he said. The agreement, according to Laus Group of Companies Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, is part of China’s $1.4-trillion “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) where Hainan Province of China will be connected to Manila via the “maritime belt.” Last Wednesday, according to Laus, Hainan officials led by Haikou City Mayor Ni Qiang of the Haikou Municipal People’s Government, already signed an agreement with the Philippine Ports Authority for the direct shipment of trade merchandize, both import and export, from Manila to Hainan and vice versa. “It will not only encompass trade exchanges but promote tourism as well since Hainan province, with a population of about 10 million, is like our Boracay and Haikou City like California. It takes only about two hours by plane and Hainan has Hainan Airlines—bigger than Philippine Airlines— which the Province of Hainan announced would make direct flights to Manila and possibly Clark,” Laus said. Big, pivotal development Laus furthered that China President Xi Jinping’s BRI is pivotal development and a “big wind” coming over by 2018. “I did not realize that somehow, we will be impacted by this BRI. But last week, when I had a signing ceremony which was witnessed by no less than the Ambassador of China to the Philippines, the Secretary General or Provincial Governor of Hainan, Speaker [Pantaleon] Alvarez, Hans Sy of SM and Atty. Raul Lambino among others, I realized that this is pivotal because all of a sudden, we have a role with this BRI of China by way of trade. Through Haima Automobile Group Co. Ltd. which manufactures Haima vehicles in Hainan province for Laus Auto Group’s Haima Philippines, Laus Group is directly impacted by the trade agreement, he concluded. (JTD)