AFTER winning the arbitration case which favors the Philippines’ rightful claim over the disputed territory, Philippines must exert efforts to enhance its trade relations with China to boost the economic activities.
Richard Javad Heydarian, Assistant Professor in International Affairs and Political Science at De La Salle University (DLSU) said the Duterte administration is looking at ways to revive bilateral investment relations, in spite of the verdict.
“I expect the new administration to use the clean sweep verdict to extract concessions from China in South China Sea and seek return of Chinese investments to the country, particularly in public infrastructure,” he told the Beyond Deadlines.
China has been a major trading partner of the Philippines and it has helped boost the country’s tourism industry.
Atty. Brenda Pimentel, former International Maritime Organization (IMO) Regional Coordinator for Technical Cooperation in Asia said, on the part of the maritime industry, it is unfortunate that no coherent policy on the country’s maritime interest had been articulated.
Pimentel said; “It’s for the government to reach out to the stakeholders to draw up one.”
Senator Risa Hontiveros is expecting the government to craft an interdependent and progressive foreign policy guided by the Hague ruling that will serve as the administration’s reference in upholding the national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the region.
Hontiveros asked the Duterte administration to further safeguard the country’s sovereignty and marine jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea. She also urged China to end its bullying and militarist expansion in the region.
“President Duterte must use all democratic multilateral platforms to protect our national interest and foster stronger ties with our regional neighbors,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, despite the territorial row with China, Standard Chartered Bank sees a buoyant Philippine economy this year under the Duterte administration.
Standard Chartered Regional Economist for Asia Jeff Ng said Duterte inherit an economy that is experiencing a domestic boom.
Duterte’s eight-point economic agenda centers on the continuity of policies on infrastructure development, investment, tax system improvement and education.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez aims to maintain the infrastructure spending target of the government at 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the coming years.
“We expect GDP growth of 6.4 percent in 2016, up from 5.9 percent in 2015, due to fading downside risks to domestic growth. This is slightly below the official 6.8 to 7.8 percent growth target, reflecting strong external headwinds,” Ng said in a Research Note.
Household consumption will remain strong, supported by lower unemployment rate and the second round effects of election related spending.
Philippine Peso -US dollar trade is forecasts at P47.50 to a US$1 this year.