'PH risks angering China by joining Pacific trade pact'

Posted at 04/28/14 10:32 AM

MANILA – A University of the Philippines professor on Monday warned the Philippines against joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In an interview on ANC, University of the Philippines Development Studies professor Roland Simbulan said the Philippines risks further antagonizing China by joining the trans-Pacific trade deal.

The Philippines and China are already at odds over their overlapping claims to parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The TPP aims to establish a free trade bloc among several countries.The pact is envisioned to connect a dozen Asia-Pacific economies by eliminating trade barriers and harmonizing regulations.

It is expected to be sealed by the end of the year by the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Simbulan said the TPP is meant to exclude China so that the US will be at the center of the Asia-Pacific economy.

Simbulan added US President Barack Obama's visit to Asia is specifically meant to consolidate US allies in the region against China because the US is alarmed by China's phenomenal economic growth.

The UP professor noted projections that China could soon become the world's largest economy, eclipsing the US.

''Aligning ourself with the TPP will align ourself economically with just the US. If we are to look at our national interest, we should relate with both countries. Our focus is we should not be the enemy of any country,'' Simbulan said.

''The implication of having US troops here and the TPP - we will unnecessarily antagonize a very significant neighbor and this neighbor may soon be the number one economy in the world. So my feeling is that as this country grows, we should also try gain from it, because its a big large market."

In a recent development, the Philippines said it would sign an agreement on Monday with the US to allow greater us military presence on its territory, giving it a security boost amid a bitter territorial dispute with China.

The signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two allies has been scheduled on Monday morning, ahead of the arrival of Obama in Manila.

Meanwhile, former Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Ariel Abadilla said having increased US rotational presence in the Philippines is not good for the Philippines in the long run.

"More US troops would certainly mean more possibilities of problems with our national, domestic policies...Remember the Smith case and when the bases were here, there were so many complaints about their misbehavior. It won't be good....in certain areas where there are disasters it would be good, but it is a question of assets and liabilities, pros and cons,'' Abadilla said. - with ANC