The Makati Business Club welcomed the government’s push to revitalize the country’s relationship with China, but called for strengthening economic ties with the US and other “strategic” allies as well.
“We believe that as we strengthen ties with one of our neighbors, this should be in tandem with continuing to nurture our partnership with existing strategic allies and friends. In particular, our relationship with the United States, particularly on the economic front, should remain solid and should also be further expanded,” the business group said.
China’s expertise in infrastructure will be critical to the Philippines’ development to close the massive gap that has been restricting the country’s growth. China remains the Philippines’ second largest trading partner, with exports of $10.8 billion and imports of $6.4 billion.
The influential business group said while the Philippines invested $75 million into China as of 2012 against China’s $570,000 in 2015, the figures were expected to rise.
The United States is the Philippines’ third largest trading partner, accounting for 12.7 percent of total goods. The Philippines exported $9 billion to the US last year, and imported $7.47 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $1.55 billion.
Remittances from migrant Filipino workers in the US and revenues from American business process outsourcing companies provide a major foreign exchange inflow to the Philippines.
Filipinos in the US contribute about $8.4 billion in remittances, or 33 percent of the total. American firms have also been critical in the development of the BPO industry that contributed $22 billion to the economy and provided 1.2 million jobs as of 2015.
The US is also among the major investors with $732 million in 2015 and second largest source of foreign tourists.
“We should also note that in time of need the United States has delivered $90.9 million worth of financial aid and has offered extensive manpower and technical support to our rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda,” the group said.
The US also provides 36 percent of official development assistance to the Philippines. Millennium Challenge Corp. has extended over $433 million worth of anti-poverty and human development programs in the Philippines since 2006.
“We support the drive for an independent foreign policy, particularly during this time when the Philippines has gained international respect, recognition and confidence over the past few years. As we transition through this recalibration in our foreign policy, we call on the government to initiate another multi-sectoral dialogue similar to when it drafted the 10-point socio-economic agenda,” said the business group.
“It is important for the world to see that the government continues its inclusive engagement and welcomes investments that will generate jobs. The Makati Business Club is prepared to participate in this discussion, as we work towards our shared aspiration of a progressive and inclusive Philippines,” the group added.