By Genalyn Kabiling
PORT MORESBY – The Philippines has appealed to the United States and China to return to the negotiating table to resolve trade war, saying such dispute would not produce any winner.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the country does not take side with anyone but expressed hope its two trading partners would agree on new terms to avert an escalation of the conflict.
“Nobody wins in a trade war and that ideally both will go back to the negotiating table and settle the differences and agree on new trade terms that would be mutually beneficial to the two countries,” Lopez said during a press conference on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea.
“Everybody in the world would like to see this end obviously and mag-usap na sila,” he said.
“Kung meron silang mga particular concerns, they should settle it. Hopefully soon, sooner than later,” he added.
Lopez stressed that the Philippines was a “friend” to both the US and China, citing the robust trade relations with the two countries. But he maintained that the Philippines continue to support efforts to promote free trade and a rules-based multilateral system and combat trade protectionism policies.
“Frankly, we don’t have to side with anyone but we… May merit ‘yung both arguments,” he said. “You know ang Pilipinas kasi of course those are two big economies and again we are a friend to both,” he added.
Lopez said the country was not affected “in a major way” by the escalating economic tension between the United States and China.
He said the Philippines, a “small economy,” actually continues to enjoy better market access to both countries.
He said some companies have even expressed interest in relocating their businesses in the country and enjoy market access with other trading partners.
“They recognize a lot of reforms we are doing — infrastructure, tax reform, liberalizing foreign equity restrictions. So they know and we have a you know the sweet demographic sweet spot right now and a lot of positive developments — enlarging consumer based, you know, young population that is more employed now with more income,” he said.
“They see this as an attractive environment for investment. Kaya talagang may konting benefit pa siya bottom line,” he added
The world’s two largest economies have been locked in an escalating trade battle, slapping more tariffs on their respective goods. The trade conflict showed no sign of abating as the two nations stood firm on their positions during the APEC summit here.