Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles. (Photo from Presidential Communications Facebook page)

MANILA – The Philippines expressed hope that China will be able to recover from the epidemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Friday.

“We obviously recognize China as one of the leading trade partners of the Philippines. And we hope that China will be able to get back to its usual business, even given the challenges that your country is facing right now,” Nograles told reporters in a Laging Handa press briefing.

More than 1,000 people have died due to Covid-19 that originated in Wuhan City, China, while nearly 60,000 others have already been infected by the virus.

To date, the virus has spread to more than 20 countries.

China’s economic growth is seen to be at its slowest pace from January to April 2020 period due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the Feb. 7 to 13 Reuters poll of 40 economists based in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, and the United States.

Reuters’ poll revealed that China’s annual economic growth in the first quarter in 2020 is predicted to decline to 4.5 percent from six percent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The drop was expected to drag down the full-year growth rate in 2020 to 5.5 percent from 6.1 percent in 2019, its weakest since at least 1900 when comparable records began,” the report read.

Reuters, however, noted that economists remain optimistic that China’s economy would bounce back by the second quarter of the year, which is forecast to have a 5.7 percent growth rate.

Nograles said the Duterte government was confident that China will overcome the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak.

He stressed that the sooner that China overcomes the challenges, the “better” for the rest of the world because “China is the leading trade partner for the different countries as well, not just the Philippines.”

“And speaking for the Philippines, I think it’s important that we all support China getting back on its feet. It’s also important that we continue our good relations in terms of economic trade and beneficial relations for both of the countries,” Nograles said.

The Philippines’ relationship with China has improved under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte. (PNA)