MANILA — The Philippines is not taking any side amid the possible trade war between the United States and China, according to Malacanang.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte had emphasized during his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday the need for Beijing to “defend the East” isolationist trade policies, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“He basically reiterated we’re not siding. There was no mention against from whom. But of course, this was in relation to the possible trade war between China and the US,” Roque said in a press conference in Hongkong on Wednesday night.
He said everyone at the Boao Forum for Asia attended by Duterte had emphasized the need to further strengthen and speed up trade liberalization “to benefit everyone, rather than a return to isolationist trade policies.”
“Everyone basically in the meeting was talking about globalization, trade liberalization and of course that Asia was benefitting greatly from globalization and trade liberalization,” Roque said.
“So, basically it was an endorsement of China’s position that the world trading system should be governed by the rules-based WTO (World Trade Organization) system, and that there should be no obstacles to further globalizations and liberalization,” he explained.
For his part, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the Philippines is hoping the trade war between the world’s two leading economies would be “short-lived”.
“We are hoping that this so-called trade war will be short-lived and we are hoping it doesn’t affect us too much, especially because we are on, I think, 6th year or 7th year, of good economic progress,” Cayetano said.
He said if the US is sneezing and China is coughing, “you know definitely the Philippines will somehow be susceptible to the flu.”
“But you know, there are flu shots already available. Our economic team is doing everything to try to bullet-proof our economy but as you know, there is no such thing as bullet-proof in economy,” Cayetano said.
“We just can do our best you know, put our experts on the industries that we want to flourish, we want the investment we want to attract,” he added.
The US and China have been threatening to impose higher tariffs reportedly worth billions of dollars, on each other.
Cayetano said there is no winner in all kinds of war, adding “smart people, brilliant people, economists, people in finance are banging their heads on how to prevent an all-out trade war around the world and how to—you know make economist more inclusive.” PNA-northboundasia.com