us presidential debate
This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (L) and US President Donald Trump speaking during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020.
Philippines wants stronger US trade ties no matter who wins the White House
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - September 30, 2020 - 6:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines hopes for stronger trade ties between Manila and Washington no matter who wins in the upcoming US presidential race which started to reach homestretch with the presidential debate on Wednesday.

“We don’t meddle in their internal affairs. We just wish that Philippine-US trade and investment ties can be further strengthened moving forward,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a text message when sought for comment.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua have not responded to request for comment.

Democrat Joe Biden told a raging President Donald Trump to “shut up” in a chaotic opening debate on Wednesday in Manila that turned almost immediately into a shouting match 35 days ahead of the most tense US election in recent memory.

For John Forbes, senior advisor at American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, whoever sits over the next 4 years in the White House would determine on a larger scale than usual the direction of US-Philippines bilateral relations given the pandemic.

“Given the extensive bilateral ties between the US and the Philippines, who is president of the US can make a difference to the economies of Asia and the Philippines,” Forbes said in a text message.

“Current US policies for the pandemic, growth, trade, and digital, among other areas, may change. Let’s watch the debates to learn more,” he added.

The US recently lent around P10 billion to the Philippines to support growth-boosting projects during the pandemic as well as increasing transparency in government dealings. In trade, US serves as one of the country’s major trading partners, cornering 8% of imports and 14.1% of exports as of June.

But a large part of US support to the Philippines is funneled to the military shaped by a defense pact that President Rodrigo Duterte, amid his overarching nationalist policies, have initially threatened to rescind. When the pandemic struck, Duterte withdrew Manila’s revocation of the Visiting Forces Agreement last June, at least for the time being. 

That said, Duterte has shown early fondness to Trump at the start of his term after repeatedly attacking his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Markets mostly fell Wednesday following the chaotic US presidential debate in which Trump again suggested the election could be fraudulent, raising concerns among investors that the result could be drawn out and fuel uncertainty.

But the local bourse bucked the downtrend, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index up 0.39% to 5,864.23 on Wednesday. “Philippine shares ended the quarter on a positive note on window dressing and after digesting the first US presidential debate,” Luis Limlingan, managing director at Regina Capital brokerage, said in a market commentary.

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