It’s “trade not aid” for the Philippines now, says government Undersecretary

It’s “trade not aid” for the Philippines now, says government Undersecretary

29/11/17

The Philippines is pursuing a new trade-based approach to development, calling for fairer rules and market access over aid projects, according to the Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy.

Speaking at Asia House’s major conference in Hong Kong, Dr. Ceferino S Rodolfo said the Philippines was “not pushing for help, we are not seeking assistance.

“In fact the mantra in the Philippines now is trade not aid.”

Citing a recent example, Dr Rodolfo presented an illuminating insight into this policy change at the highest level.

“Just four weeks ago I was about to present, and get cabinet approval for, a technical development assistance project from a key partner of the Philippines,” he said, adding that the project would be worth some 80 million dollars to the country.

“I was asked by the cabinet secretary, ‘Are [the partner] already letting our bananas enter their market?’ I said ‘No sir’.”

According to Dr Rodolfo, the cabinet replied: ‘Don’t give your presentation. Do not proceed with your presentation. Tell them we want trade, not aid.’

It was a tangible example of how the global trade order is shifting, with Asian countries becoming less dependent on the West and awaking to the opportunities of free trade. The Philippines is now “pushing for commercial market access, we are pushing for fair rules, and we are pushing for partnerships,” the Undersecretary said.

Dr Rodolfo was speaking at the Asia House conference, Asia Trade in the New Global Order, held in Hong Kong on Monday 27 November, which brought together leading opinion-formers on global trade and investment.