The Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce, Inc.
"The Voice of Philippine American Small & Medium Enterprises & Initiatives for Mutual Benefit."

OpEd 5-Yolanda O. Stern

OpEd - Amb. Yolanda Ortega Stern
Last Year Unchanged
FPACC Newsline Vol. I No. 15 Publisher – Amb. Yolanda O. Stern
PACCO Bridges the “Rivers of Change” at August 18-20, 2011 National Convention

Craig Allen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Asia, within the Market Access and Compliance Bureau of the International Trade Administration, headlined Federation 2011. Mr. Allen is a very experienced Asia hand the International Trade Administration (ITA). He began his career in 1985 and worked as an International Economist in the ITA China Office. In 1988, he served as the Director of the American Trade Center in Taipei and held that position until 1992. He then rejoined the China Office in Beijing for a three year stint as Commercial attache responsible for the chemical sector, consumer goods and medical equipment. Then he served as Commercial attache in Tokyo with responsibilities for consumer goods and standards. In 1999 he became a member of the Senior Foreign Service. He has worked at the National Center for APEC in Seattle and eventually worked on the APEC Summits in Brunei, China and Mexico. In 2002, Mr Allen moved to Beijing with his family to become the Senior Commercial Officer at the US Mission to China with a staff of 126 from multiple DOC Bureaus. He speaks Japanese and Chinese.

A very interesting background indeed, considering the challenges currently making head in the US China relationship. Making his job even more interesting, are the undercurrrents of tension dominating China-US-Philippines relations. Certainly, a man as experienced as Mr. Allen may be longing for calmer times as America experiments with new formulas to make it more competitive with China in both trade and muscle in Asia, thru the Millenium Challenge Corporation, a US government agency designed to reduce poverty via economic growth in select developing countries.

FPACC is poised to play a role that can help determine and influence US Philippines relations due to its bi-national mission. Its almost 20 year presence in the archipelago with humanitarian missions, strategic partnerships, and advocacies, should be recognized by the US ITA as one of the best ways to help reduce poverty in the Philippines, one village at a time.

The pending China-Philippine Development Program that President Aquino expects to sign in China next week, commits China to $50 billion in investments over the next five years. PCCI president Johnny Chua said they have already arranged $3 billion in investments and China is looking for more (Philippine Star Aug 27). China already has a $100 million stake in Negros Navigation and Aboitiz. R. Duongfang Auto Parts Co. Ltd will invest $200 million in an auto parts factory with Miguel Varela (former PCCI president) as the chair and Johnny Sy as president. Another investment that will require 100-200 hectares of land will manufacture rubber tires. The firm that has been constructing a $300 million nickel processing plant will also likely build their own power unit in addition.

Despite protests by some groups of overseas Filipinos over the Spratlys, the GPH is moving ahead with China owned Sino Petroleum Corp. oil exploration in the disputed chain of islands. China is prepared to invest $1 to $7 billion in exploration alone. Undersecratary of Trade Ernesto Panlilio said China has agreed to conduct explorations “under Philippine laws” and they do not expect probems.

VP Jejomar Binay, fresh from a 2-week study seminar at Harvard, discounts the possibility of China-PH conflict over the Spratlys, citing the US-PH Mutual Defense Treaty that binds the US defense of the Philippine Archipelago under external attacks. But the
Philippines is indefensible today on its own. Nevermind that the US cannot make adequate defense of the Philippines under the current setup either.

So China will play a significant role in uplifting poverty in the Philippines, a role that the US has had many years to hone. China has also been very effective in areas where US initiatives have not been felt in great significance over the decades. It can blame its failures on corruption, bad governance, and terrorism in Mindanao. But its military initiatives to win the hearts and minds of the world in conflict has driven its army to the point of exhaustion. Americans are beginning to say ENOUGH! Its unemployment rate showing no downturn, its economy teetering, its continuing role as the “World Police” taxing its resources and reputation, it is becoming less and less able to demand that the rogue countries follow its example. With China’s ascension to supremacy in Asia, America as a role model will become less desirable.

There is a saying that goes: “It is better to build children than to repair adults.” The Filipinos have been America’s children for decades. But it looks like China may be moving in and may just repair the adults. If America wants a significant role in this strategic region, it has to do more than pushing for a change of policies and styles. It has to think like Confucius and help put food in the bellies of the 99% of the country’s poor; help them provide access to primary health care; help equip the military and law enforcement with the tools to keep law and order. It has to race China in the Philippines in all aspects because China has already been occupying the Philippines for decades and has been a significant friend.

Scott Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary, East Asia and Pacific Bureau, in a speech before the East Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (2009), reiterated US neutrality in the ongoing disputes over the Spratlys. He then listed Amnerica’s interests in the region, namely: maintaining stability; freedom of navigation; and the right to lawful commercial activity in East Asia’s waterways.

A US China expert, Craig Allen is in a strategic seat where he can make a difference in keeping the balance in the region between US military strategies, and US development and humanitarian plans. He has the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

(Miguel Varela is president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (PCCI) again and the US for decades now continue to stand neutral on the territorial issue amidst fresh aggressive actions among claimants. The Middle East is in turmoil and the Arab Spring is a misnomer. Russia is on its way to FarAsia. The US is still pushing TPP. Tune in to the next Newsline from FPACC)

Chairman Emeritus-FPACC