Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico, president of the country’s largest business organization Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said the Philippines should leverage its political favors with China to persuade Taiwan to allow the entry of Philippine mangoes and coconuts or face trade retaliation on their computer exports to the country.
Yujuico said this in response to a question during a recent webinar on whether the government can separate political issues from economic issues as a follow up to an earlier pronouncement that the country’s top political leaders should do what Vietnam has done in inviting companies from China to relocate to their country. More foreign companies from China have relocated to Vietnam and elsewhere in the ASEAN than the Philippines.
Yujuico explained that since time immemorial, political and economic issues have always been intertwined. “It is hard to separate business and political issues, this is not new. Since time immemorial, we have to deal with that. But what am saying is that is a solvable situation,” said Yujuico.
For instance, he said, the Philippines’ adherence to the “One China Policy” can be used as a leverage to persuade Taiwan to open its market for Philippine fruits.
“For instance, I am insisting on Taiwan that I want to see Philippine mangoes in Taiwan very soon otherwise I am going to work to impose (taxes or non-tariff barriers) on their computers going to the Philippines,” he said. Taiwan is the one of the country’s major sources of laptops and computers.
“It is something you have to work with because politically Taiwan wants to be on the good side of the Philippines because they know we are on the side of China. We can use this as leverage,” he said stressing, it this can be agreed through negotiations.
“You cannot separate it (political) because it is part of it (economic), so just learn to leverage in order to get trade advantage,” he added.
Yujuico noted that Taiwan has imposed non-tariff barriers, such as the need for health certificate that passes under the Taiwan standards, on Philippine mangoes and coconut shipments. “Taiwan claims our fruits do not pass their health standards so nothing enters Taiwan,” he noted.
He, however, clarified that since imports are already subject to 12 percent VAT, the Philippines may not use the imposition of additional taxes on Taiwan-made computers.
“We will not use tax rate as basis to discriminate - but other sanctions that will not be considered violation of agreements... similar in concept to what Taiwan is doing to our mangoes and coconuts, asking for health certificates,” said Yujuico.