US businessmen worry over termination of VFA

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham) has expressed concern over the Philippines’ move to terminate a military agreement with the US.

AmCham senior advisor John Forbes said in a text message yesterday the group supports the concern raised by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

Esper said terminating the military deal is a move in the wrong direction.

This, as he said the two countries have a long-standing relationship.

Esper also said ending the defense pact would be moving in the wrong direction  as the two countries and  other partners in the region are telling China to follow international rules of order.

In January, President Duterte threatened to scrap the VFA, following the cancellation of the US visa of Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa who was head of the Philippine National Police when the campaign against drugs was launched.

The Philippines has sent its notification of its intent to pull out of the military agreement to the US.

Following the notification, the deal would be scrapped 180 days from the receipt of the US government of the notice.

Forbes said the group “hopes the two governments can work out any disagreement that may have arisen.”

AmCham promotes the interests of Philippine and American businesses in the country.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said termination of the VFA may affect the two countries’ economic relations.

In 2018, the US was the Philippines’ third largest trading partner with trade valued at $8.70 billion.

As a beneficiary of the US Generalized System of Preferences, the Philippines enjoys preferential treatment or zero or reduced tariffs on some goods entering the US.

When it comes to investments, the US is the Philippines’ fifth biggest source in 2018.

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