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Possible US-China trade war to hurt PH, ASEAN

Dominguez warns

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by Chino Leyco

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III warned the possible trade war between the United States and China presents “great concern” for the Philippines along with other Southeast Asian nations.

In a statement, Dominguez said the possible trade war between the world’s two economic powerhouses along with Washington’s emerging protectionist policies could adversely affect the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

At the recent 12th session of the ASEAN Finance Ministers Investors Seminar (AFMIS), Dominguez said the Philippines views potential “inward-looking” policies and the possible trade war between the US and China “with great concern.”

Carlos G. Dominguez III

Carlos G. Dominguez III

The impact on the ASEAN of a possible US-China trade war was discussed at the AFMIS open forum as Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump met face-to-face for the first time last week and wrapped up talks  on a wide range of issues in Florida.

Dominguez said the ASEAN can help fend off the adverse effects of these “inward-looking” policies by implementing measures to speed up regional integration and the sharing of resources among their economies.

“I think the lesson for us there is we have to integrate our economies a little more. We have, as I mentioned, a 650-million market. We are lucky we have a young population, we have a population that is trainable, and many of us in ASEAN need infrastructure,” Dominguez said.

“Sharing of resources within us will help alleviate any problems of a trade war or a protectionist policy,” he added.

Dominguez said the ASEAN should work to make growth inclusive among its peoples, adding the region should also learn from the world’s experience with globalization, which “has been a great source of increasing wealth, [but] a very poor tool for spreading it.”

Dominguez said the ASEAN should prepare its workforce to adapt to changes brought about by “disruptive technology,” referring to innovations that create new markets and jobs but eventually displaces existing ones.

The finance chief noted that the region’s workforce should learn “ride out the tide of change” while coping with the rising popularity of protectionism and other “inward-looking” trade policies.

“We must really focus ourselves on policies that make sure that the wealth that is created by globalization is shared by all,” Dominguez said.

He said that in the Philippines, the government is countering the adverse effects of globalization and the emerging inward-looking trade policies across the globe by investing heavily in infrastructure, education and health.

“With us, we are countering these inward-looking policies by heavily investing in infrastructure, which we are really far behind the rest of ASEAN,” Dominguez said.

“It will create better jobs in the areas outside of the main business areas; it will create connectivity between the outlying farming areas to the main markets in Manila. So infrastructure is a main tool,” he added.

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