No economic loss in Duterte’s 'separation' from US – trade chief
BEIJING, China – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez downplayed fears that President Rodrigo Duterte’s announced “separation” from the United States in both economic and military aspects won’t mean a stop in trade between the Philippines and the Western power.
“We don’t see any loss from the pronouncement yesterday. It continues, exports and imports won’t stop,” Lopez told reporters on Friday, October 21, on the final day of Duterte’s visit to China.
Lopez, who said Duterte did not consult him before making the announcement, interprets the President as saying he only wants to pursue an independent economic policy.
“Our reading of this is that there will be just a lessening of too much dependence on one side. It’s true we are too dependent and close. What is being said now is really balancing this friendship and partnership,” he said.
He said that “realistically,” transactions between the Philippines and US won’t stop.
“Realistically, you can’t stop transactions. We have many investments with us from the US. We export, we import,” he said. (READ: Duterte vs US: PH to lose 3rd largest trading partner)
On Thursday evening, Duterte’s other economic managers also downplayed his statement.
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, in a joint statement, said the Philippines “will maintain relations with the West” but will pursue “stronger integration with our neighbors.”
American investors anxious
Filipino businessmen supportive of the Duterte administration said the President’s announcement caught them by surprise.
“Well, definitely that was not expected. People were surprised,” said Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry honorary chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.
But he said many Filipino-Chinese businessmen know that hyperbole and rhetoric is Duterte’s “style.” Ortiz-Luis doubts Duterte’s statement will become concrete government policy.
“I don’t think we should be overly bothered by the rhetorics…. I don’t very much think it will be translated to real policy,” he said.
But, he admitted, some American investors got in touch with him to express their concern.
“I did receive some texts from some of them and they’re anxious about it. Someone even texted me, ‘Goodbye, Spam; hello, Ma-Ling,’” he said. – Rappler.com