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How a Donald Trump presidency can affect the Philippines

In this Aug. 1, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Columbus, Ohio. Hillary Clinton raised $63 million in July for her presidential campaign, her best month yet and a summertime haul that puts her ahead of President Barack Obama’s fundraising at the same point in his re-election race. AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File  

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED Nov. 15, 2016) — Donald Trump started as the unlikely candidate.

He accused Mexico of sending rapists to the US, said immigrants steal jobs from Americans, pledged to ban Muslims entry to the US, threatened to commit a war crime, made misogynistic tirades, and insulted the disabled, the media, war heroes, countries and a hundred other things.

The world is keeping Trump under close scrutiny.

A poll by the Pew Research Center showed that Trump was the unpopular choice when it comes to making right decisions on world affairs, getting negative ratings in nearly every country surveyed in Europe and Asia.

Now that he has clinched the Republican nomination, Asia has all the more reason to keep a closer watch, especially as the region can lose big time if Trump and his foreign policy make it to the White House.

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A slew of Trump’s plans is already sending jitters to the region. These include migration bans, trade protectionism, and the pullout of US military forces from allied countries.

Immigration

Illegal immigration is the signature issue of the Trump campaign. He has proposed a 2,000-mile wall along the US-Mexico border as part of his immigration reform plan. He also proposed to refuse all Muslims from entering the US after the December 2015 San Bernandino attacks. 

His latest proposal last June was to ban immigrants “from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies."

CNN crunched the numbers and came up with 40 countries, including the Philippines where two terror groups are listed, or as many as 10.2 million people who could be affected by such a policy. 

In its breakdown, it said that the State Department has granted 2,561,762 nonimmigrant visas in 2015 to residents of those countries. The Philippines was issued the second most number of visas last year at 235,221. 

Current counts show that there are 4 million Filipinos in the US. Overseas Filipinos in America sent the most in remittances, which sustains the Philippine economy, last year at $8.4 billion. This is 32.8 percent of the total remittances sent by Filipinos abroad in 2015.

Trade

Although saying he is pro-free trade, Trump has opposed several US trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which he claims were poorly negotiated and led to loss of jobs for Americans

He also said he would penalize American companies that would manufacture outside the US.

As the world's manufacturing hub, Asia would get hit hard. And within Asia, the Philippines and South Korea would be the most at risk, securities firm Nomura said in an interview with Bloomberg late last month, revealing results of its investor survey.

Trump has opposed a 2012 free trade deal between the US and South Korea which he said is killing jobs in America. He also wants South Korea, which has long hosted US bases, to pay for security Americans are providing there.

Meanwhile, Philippine exports to the US could be affected if tariffs are placed. The booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country would also be greatly affected if Trump brings jobs back to the US.

FT Confidential Research forecast an estimated $25.5 billion in BPO revenues this year.

Nomura's survey showed that 77 percent of respondents expect a Trump government to brand China as a currency manipulator, which could trigger a range of trade barriers.

Trade restrictions with China, the world’s largest manufacturing assembler and biggest trading partner of the US in 2015, could have substantial "knock-on effects" to other Asian countries that supply high value-added parts and components to Beijing, Nomura said.

Security

Trump promised to expand the presence of US troops in the disputed South China Sea to deter China yet, at the same time, said he would withdraw military forces from allied countries like Japan and Korea unless they “increase their contribution significantly”—a move that could threaten security in the region.

China may assert itself more prominently in the region’s geopolitics if US alliances with Japan and Korea weakens, Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted.

Beijing also expects Trump to focus more on the ISIS threat and less on the US pivot to Asia pushed by President Barack Obama, which is seen by many in China as a threat to its rising power, Glaser added.

ANALYSIS: Clinton, Trump and the West Philippine Sea

Analysts are in agreement that as far as China is concerned, dealing with “businessman” Trump would be easier, if not favorable, to Beijing compared to a government led by Hillary Clinton who is seen to continue the US pivot to Asia and push for parties to abide by the Hague-based tribunal’s decision. — Video by Efigenio Toledo IV

Editor's Note: Corrected data on 2015 remittance of overseas Filipinos in the United States from $8.04 billion to $8.4 billion.

 

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