‘Business as usual’ after sea row ruling
It will most likely be business as usual for the Philippines and China as far as trade and investments are concerned, according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
The newly installed trade chief expressed confidence that the bilateral economic relations between the two countries would remain healthy despite the recent decision of an international arbitration court upholding the Philippines’ rights in its sea dispute with China.
“We don’t see any (adverse) impact offhand. Even prior to this decision, we have seen trade ongoing. We continue to export to China and they export to us as well. Our trade with them has continued (even at the time when the case was filed),” Lopez said.
“It’s safe to say that we don’t see a significant impact. In fact, we expect trade to further strengthen because there should be less political issues. This is what we’re hoping would happen. It should be noted that even in the past three years, when this case wasn’t resolved yet, we have seen trade remaining steady and we see this (trend) continuing,” he added.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that as of May this year, the country’s exports to China accounted for 9.8 percent of the total shipments to buyers abroad during the first five months, down from a 10.9 percent a year ago. The country’s imports from China accounted for 17.7 percent of the total value of goods imported between January and April—reportedly the biggest share among the Philippines’ trading partners as well as higher than a year ago’s 15.7 percent.
Earlier this week, the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China had no historic title over the South China Sea and that it violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines. Although China has openly refuted the Philippines’ claims, Philippine business groups were optimistic that this development would not significantly dampen the bilateral economic relations of the two countries. Investors, however, are expected to initially adopt a wait-and-see-stance in anticipation of short-term volatilities.
Top officials from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Management Association of the Philippines noted that their positive outlook was partially attributed to the way President Duterte and his Cabinet had been handling the situation, given pronouncements that the new administration was open to conducting bilateral talks with China over the disputed areas.
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