China and Japan are competing to invest in $1 trillion worth of mineral resources in the Philippines, shedding light on one of the economic incentives behind President Rodrigo Duterte's headline-grabbing Asia pivot.
Both Asian heavyweights are interested on building out the southern province of Mindanao, Carlos Dominguez, finance secretary of the Philippines told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.
As the Philippine's second-largest island, Mindanao is home to half of the country's mineral wealth, including copper, gold, iron, aluminum in addition to significant natural gas and oil deposits. The region's untapped resource wealth could be worth as much as $1 trillion, according to a 2011 leaked cable from the U.S. embassy in Manila released by Wikileaks.
Mindanao is also a famed biodiversity hot spot, teeming of valuable vegetation such as forests and rainforest soil, and a leading producer of bananas, papayas, and mangosteens, earning the nickname 'Fruit Basket of the Philippines.'
From food to minerals, "the entire gamut of resources are open to development," Dominguez said.
The investment opportunity comes as Duterte, currently on tour in Japan following a visit to China, embarks on a radical shift of Philippine foreign policy as he seeks deepened integration with North and Southeast Asia while distancing Manila from Washington.