Business: Sees no major change in PH-US relations

Published November 9, 2020, 5:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Philippine businesses do not see significant change in the US business relations either under a Democrat or a Republic leadership as they look for better economic opportunities in other countries having perceived the US government giving more support to other ASEAN countries than the Philippines, its former colony and top ally in Southeast Asia.

Amb. Benedicto Yujuico, president of the country’s largest business organization the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said as Americans elected a new leader Joe Biden, ending Republican President Trump’s first term at the White House .

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Benedicto V. Yujuico

“I don’t think it matters a lot for the Philippines whether it’s Trump or Biden who will be the next US President.  It’s more about how the Philippines would like to manage its relationship with the US going forward that will matter,” said Yujuico.

In the recent past, Yujuico said the US has supported other ASEAN countries more than the Philippines.  He cited the recently concluded “Indo Pacific Summit” held in Hanoi which highlighted US private and public sector support of large projects in Vietnam, its former adversary.

“The Philippines should continue to expand trade and investment in our region as well as open up new relationships and markets in the East.  For now, the US has its own priorities, which seems not to include the Philippines so we have to find new friends and opportunities elsewhere,” said Yujuico.

   Having said that, the PCCI business leader said he will be meeting today (Nov. 9) with US Embassy officials in his office “to keep the door open.”

During the Obama administration, the proposed bilateral free trade agreement between the US and Philippines was not entertained by the US government. Obama and President Duterte also figured in word war with the latter telling the former to “go to hell” over his criticism of the Philippines’ brutal war against drugs,

The proposed FTA though was given a go signal by Trump, who succeeded Obama, during his visit to the Philippines.

Dan Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (SEIPI), also said “I don’t see major changes in 2021 as we still grapple with COVID.”

SEIPI President Dan Lachica

  He, however, said that a Trump win will essentially be status quo since he is the incumbent while a Biden is essentially an extension of Obama. This means revival of the Democrat initiatives including Climate change, WHO participation, and strengthening ties with allies. “It should be good,” he said.

  Electronics exports to the US have been increasing over the years, said Lachica.

Meantime, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) was hopeful of the leadership of US President-elect Joe Biden.

“The United States has been a very important ally and economic partner of the Philippines. There is an estimated 4 million Filipinos living in the United States. We are glad that America has a President-elect after a contentious political campaign and nail-biting electoral count,” said MAP President Francis Lim.

MAP President Francis Lim

“We are emboldened by the victory speech of President-elect Joe Biden. We  nurture the hope that he will lead America with steady hands in this difficult time given the enormous challenges, like reviving the virus economy, healing the divide in the nation and across nations, protecting  democratic ideals around the world, addressing the imperatives of the environment and social inequality, and strengthening global cooperation,  peace and stability.”