A panel of six global and regional experts will tackle the complex issue of maintaining productive business and economic relationships between the Philippines and China in spite of disputes over the West Philippine Sea today.
The event is The Manila Times Business Forum being held today at the Dusit Thani Makati.
Some 200 members of the business and industrial community, including tycoons with investments in China, are registered forum participants.
Former president Fidel V. Ramos, whose China expertise grew as chair in past years of the Boao Forum in Beijing and as current chair of the Boao Forum council of advisers, will give the keynote address.
Leading the speakers will be Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who will present the Philippine economic and investment outlook in the Philippines-China context.
Speakers from the US-based global think tank Stratfor, PwC China and PwC Philippines, and China-based Dezan Shira Associates will explore opportunities in and obstacles to cross-border business and investment between the two countries, a relationship that has been generally positive despite their long-standing conflict over sovereignty over and control of parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Richard Cant, the Shanghai-based regional director of business management consultancy firm Dezan Shira and Associates, will bring in a closer view of the Chinese economy from the inside, including new business trends, challenges and practical tips in doing business in China.
China Ambassador Zhao Jianhua will send a message to forum participants through First Secretary for Economic and Commercial Affairs Wang Yang.
Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo will share his knowledge on dealing with China, including joint development of disputed islands and in resolving territorial conflicts. Romulo had earlier suggested that commercial arrangements be explored as a way around the political impasse.
Rodger Baker, vice president for East Asia-Pacific Analysis of Stratfor, a leading geopolitical intelligence and forecasting company, will present an incisive analysis of the conflicting interests in the South China Sea from the geopolitical and economic perspective, as well offer as forecasts on the direction of Chinese policy, the US pivot to Asia, and the challenges and opportunities presented by these geopolitical shifts.
Scott Qian, Director of PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) China, along with Alex Cabrera, chairman of PwC Philippines, will present their professional advice on setting up and expanding foreign business operations in China, including practical tips on investment financing, taxation and disclosure/audit/reporting issues. The PwC topic is “China: the biggest market transformation story.”
The contested sea, which is crossed by some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is believed to have large reserves of oil and gas, as well as being some of the world’s most productive fishing grounds.
Sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea is a contentious unsettled issue. China claims nearly all of it according to its “nine-dash line” map, while conflicting claims to parts of the sea are made by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Although Baker characterized the situation between the Philippines and China as currently being in “a moment of calm,” words were exchanged between the two governments just this week over the Philippines’ “Triple Action Plan” to ease tensions, which was introduced in connection with the arbitration case the Philippines is pursuing against China before the United Nations’ International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
Even so, the simmering tensions do not seem to have completely interfered with the two countries’ mutual business relations, with investors on both sides remaining keen on taking advantage of growing opportunities, a positive, albeit complicated state of affairs that is the focus of today’s forum.
The forum will provide a venue for intelligent discussions on cross-border investments between Philippine and Chinese entrepreneurs at a most delicate time in the long history of the two countries.
Amid tensions arising from territorial disputes over a chain of islands, shoals and reefs in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, the forum will bring together a panel of speakers from global think tanks and consultancy firms that specialize on China, as well as policy makers and diplomats from both sides of the border, to share their insights on fostering prosperous cross-border businesses even while both governments struggle to deal with their policy and diplomatic differences.