PH to get more attention ‘politcally and economically’ under Biden administration — analyst

Published November 10, 2020, 2:21 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippines will find itself getting more attention “politically and economically” from the incoming administration of United States President-elect Joseph “Joe” Biden than what it got from President Donald Trump, a renowned Washington-based analyst and former World Bank (WB) official said on Tuesday.

US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stand with spouses Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff after delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

Speaking at the Global Media Webinar on the impact of the just-concluded US elections on the Philippines and the region, Yukon Huang, former WB country director for China, said Biden will most likely see the “major role” that the Philippines can play as the new US administration forms stronger alliances with countries in East Asia and Southeast Asia. 

“It’s a combination of chance, political pressures, and economic roles (that) gives the Philippines a good opportunity to move ahead in a very positive way in the coming period of time. This is going to be potentially a Philippine period in the next decade,” said Huang who is currently a senior fellow in the Asia Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Economically, Huang pointed out that the Philippines is the next logical place in Southeast Asia for the so-called “manufacturers from China out” to expand and build their capacity in place of Vietnam which he said has already hit the ceiling.

“Vietnam’s capacity is more or less used up. The next logical place to build a capacity to diversify is the Philippines. I think you’ll find yourself politically and economically getting more attention from the Biden administration than you got from a Trump administration,” he said. 

He stressed that there is no other place in Southeast Asia where manufacturing could go to strengthen its regional supply centers except for the Philippines due to its good labor force, its willing people, its language capacity, and its “very receptive” culture.

Huang, however, said the Philippines has yet to address some concerns in its policies on foreign direct investment restrictions, infrastructure limitations, and even on the issues of corruption and power shortage, among others. 

As for China’s strategic interest and the future of its relationship with the new US administration, Huang also sees the Philippines playing a “key position” in the discussion to reduce tensions in the contentious South China Sea.

“That problem cannot be resolved without the Philippines playing a major role, a key position in the discussion. I think China is keenly interested in reducing tensions with the US. It has to realize (in order) to do that, to improve relations with these neighboring countries, and I think the Philippines has a major role in that respect,” he added. 

Huang, whose research focuses on China’s economy and its regional and global impact, said that even with a new US president, Beijing will have to do a lot in terms of making America accept its rise as an economic power due to the negative perception it is getting from the West. 

“From China’s side, my advice is you need to deal with the global perception. You cannot become a great power without getting better goodwill, build your soft power weapons. Don’t try to attack it from an economic or hard power sense. You have to get people to say and see China as a potential positive force rather than as a concern,” said the former WB official and author of the best-selling book, Cracking the China Conundrum: Why Conventional Economic Wisdom Is Wrong.

Other resource persons who joined Huang in the panel discussion were Anna Mae Lamentillo, chairperson of the “Build, Build, Build” Committee; Dioceldo Sy, founder, and CEO of Ever Bilena Cosmetics and Blackwater, and George Siy, chairman emeritus of Anvil Business Club. 

The Global Media Webinar was presented by Blackwater and Chinoy TV with the Manila Bulletin as its media partner.