TODAY we hold the Philippines-China Business Forum. It is the first of periodic forums on policy issues vital to our country’s well-being, growth and development we will hold.
We inaugurate our program of forums with the issue of China-Philippine business relations because recent events have shaken the traditionally happy relations between our two countries.
Despite the conflict between the Philippine and Chinese governments over sovereignty issues in the West Philippine (South China) Sea, the tensions have—thank God—not deeply affected our two countries’ mutually profitable business relations and friendly people-to-people ties between Filipino and Chinese businessmen. Investors of both countries have continued to be eager to take the many opportunities available to expand their existing trade and personal connections.
How to multiply these opportunities and take advantage of them is the focus of this forum.
That is why we chose former president Fidel V. Ramos to deliver the keynote address.
He has always urged, as we have, that we individual Filipinos and, we hope, individual Chinese— as well as our two countries’ governments—should act in such a way that political and security concerns should not interfere in– not even cast a shadow on—economic, business, cultural, education, people-to-people relations.
When Mr. Ramos was our president, he pursued a policy of considering China’s legitimate security interests in any moves or discussions pertaining to the conflicts in the West Philippine (South China) Sea. Sharing the great Deng Xiaoping’s vision, Mr. Ramos advocated that any claimant state should forget sovereignty issues temporarily, refrain from taking military positions and least of all use force to project its claims, but instead seek to develop the resources of the disputed sea in partnership with other claimants.
That Ramos approach was adopted by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had the support of former speaker Jose de Venecia (an close ally of former President Ramos) who succeeded in making China and Vietnam agree on a joint geodetic survey of a part of the Spratlys so that the three countries could then jointly explore—and exploit—the area commercially.
Today, at the Dusi Thani, 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 their government’s disputes over the West Philippine (South China) Sea.
Some 200 members of the business and industrial community, including tycoons with investments in China, are registered participants in the forum.
Aside from Mr. Ramos, NEDA Director and Economic Development Secretary Arsenio Balisacan will give a speech titled “Fostering Prosperous Philippine-China Business Relations.” First Secretary for Economic Affairs and Chief of the Commercial Section of the China Embassy Wang Yang will give a speech on behalf of Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
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 (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.
Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo will share his expert knowledge on dealing with China, including joint development of disputed islands and in resolving territorial conflicts.
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 as make forecasts on what direction Chinese policy will take, 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.”
We hope The Manila Times Business Forum will not only aid businessmen but also contribute to the enlightenment of our countrymen on Philippines-China relations.