Pinoy experts: China can’t impose trade sanctions on PH

University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal, a Filipino political expert, said China would be in trouble and stands to lose more if it imposes economic sanctions and engages in a trade war with the Philippines.

Batongbacal pointed out that it is actually Beijing that benefits more from its trade ties with Manila, considering that Filipinos constitute most of the consumers of its manufactured products.

He said it is easy to say that “the Philippine economy may collapse if China stops trading with us but let’s see what proof there is to it. We have not yet seen any proof that China can actually sanction us economically.”

The United States and Japan, serving as the Philippines’ largest trading partners, “can easily fill in the trade gap with China.” he added.

Batongbacal recalled that China suffered grave repercussions when it imposed in the past trade restrictions on Australian goods. In 2020, China blocked imports of Australian commodities, like coal, timber and barley, after Australia called for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.

Jollan Margaret Llaneza, foreign trade service officer at the Department of Trade and Industry, noted that the Philippines maintains a free trade agreement with China under the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

She said the Philippines also benefits from the trade agreements because of lower tariff rates and a more liberalized market access for Filipino exporters.

De La Salle University professor Renato de Castro, for his part, said both countries should take into account the “law of unintended consequences” before considering waging a war.

De Castro added that Beijing and Manila should learn from the lessons of the two-year Russia-Ukraine armed conflict, stressing that “it’s easy to start a war but it’s difficult to end it.”

“Once you start a war, you simply don’t know what will happen,” he added.