Chinese-Filipino business disrupted by Panatag rift, Baguio traders say
BAGUIO CITY—Chinese-Filipino businessmen here said the country’s rift with China over the Panatag Shoal (also known as Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea had affected their operations.
Mark Jefferson Ng, manager of Hotel Supreme in La Trinidad, Benguet province, said access to suppliers from China was affected when the Philippines challenged China for deploying a flotilla in 2012 to seize the shoal.
But a July 2016 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) had declared that Panatag was within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
The PCA also concluded that China interfered with the Philippine fishing industry as well as its petroleum exploration, thereby violating the country’s sovereign rights over these waters.
“We had to go through brokers for business transactions and communication was very hard,” Ng told reporters during the launching of the Chinese Spring Festival here early this month.
China offers quality goods and services at a lower cost, Ng said.
“But after President Duterte’s state visit to China last year, China became more open. We can now directly transact with suppliers again,” Ng said.
“We already had good business relations with Chinese firms during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III but these broke down [because of] the Panatag dispute,” Ng said.
According to Ng, since the state visit, it has been easier to access information about Chinese companies. “We have better ways of examining the quality of commodities because we now have direct communication with Chinese firms,” he said.
Kane Chanbonpin, an engineer, said businessmen are also happy that Mr. Duterte has encouraged more countries like Russia to invest in the Philippines. —KIMBERLIE QUITASOL
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