Digong pronouncements cause deep concern to foreign investors

By: Nestle L. Semilla, Victor Anthony V. Silva October 22,2016 - 12:00 AM
 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte spoke during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 where he announced that he would break military and economic ties with the United States (AP PHOTO).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte spoke during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016 where he announced that he would break military and economic ties with the United States (AP PHOTO).

Foreign businessmen have expressed concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that he would “break up” economic and military ties with the United States of America and has led them either to postpone expansion plans here or leave the country, said a Cebuano business leader.

Gordon Alan “Dondi” Joseph, president of the Cebu Business Club, said he received calls from European, American, and Japanese businessmen friends “who cannot understand what is going on and why.”

“They are worried and are considering postponing expansion plans and or leaving the Philippines,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Duterte, during his visit to China this week, told state and business leaders that he was going to “separate” from the US in both military and economic aspects.

But Joseph said there is no reason for the Philippines to cut ties with the US, one of the country’s biggest trading partners, as this would lead to capital flight and a decrease in foreign direct investments here.

Exports will drop, equating to an unnecessary increase in unemployment, said Joseph.

He added that as the Philippines’ foreign policy is changing, businessmen are threatened not only for their investments and business, but even for their personal safety, in the midst of a brewing anti-foreigner sentiment.

“This perception of theirs is now a reality we have to address. It’s not just their business. Their customers in the affected countries are even asking why they should buy goods from the Philippines, especially those in Europe,” Joseph said.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng, who personally witnessed Duterte deliver his announcement, said it was probably his strategy to gain more support from China.

She said it would still be prudent to maintain good relations with the US considering many business opportunities present in that market.

Confusing

Federico Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) in Cebu, said Duterte’s rhetoric is confusing.

“Members of his Cabinet are saying something else. Duterte also did not say that the mutual defense treaty is voided. He said he would end economic relations, but not social relations,” he said.

According to the White House, there has been no formal communication from the Philippine government regarding changes in relations following Duterte’s announcement.

Malacañang also urged the people not to “interpret” the President’s statements while some solons said this might have just been a hyperbole.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Glenn Soco said that amid this uncertainty, he still hopes the president’s statements mean trade relations with the US and any other country will remain the same.

He said he welcomes stronger relations with China as part of optimizing the Philippines’ position in Asia, but it is important within the global economy, to be open to trade with countries that want to do business with the Philippines.

“In business, it should be about integration, not separation,” said Soco.

Opinions among chamber members are mixed and are only based on impression and perception, he added.

But Soco said that since the start of the Duterte administration, there has not been any concrete changes in foreign trade and international policies that are felt on the ground.

More friends

At the Capitol, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said while he supports the President’s move of making China and Russia the country’s allies, Duterte should not cut off ties with old allies like the US.

“I don’t see any complications in making friends with Russia and China. But let us not also abandon an old ally like the US for instance. We cannot be isolationist. You cannot shut down the United States because we still need them,” Davide said.

Davide said the recent pronouncements of Duterte against US will not have any adverse effect on Filipinos living and working in America.

“Wa man ko nabalaka hinoon ana. Pero makapamalandong hinoon ka (I am not worried about it but it makes you ponder). Sometimes the pronouncements of our president are very disturbing. But as I always emphasize, that’s his style. That’s the way he is,” Davide said.

He does not think the US would take it against the country or on the Filipinos living there.

He said America has been committed to the Philippines and he does not think they would pull out their support to the country.

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TAGS: American, business, businessmen, CCCI, Cebu, Cebu Business Club, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, cebu governor, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, Commerce, Duterte, Duterte Administration, economic, Europe, European, expansion plans, Hilario Davide III, industry, Japanese, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, MCCI, Melanie Ng, military, PhilExport, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., Philippines, President Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte, Province of Cebu, Rodrigo Duterte, United States of America, US

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