Monday, October 24, 2016

Salceda wants BOC to address smuggling of products from China
By Alan Tan

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 24, (PNA) -- Albay (second district) Rep. Joey Salceda wants the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to address the smuggling of products from China estimated at USD17 billion.

He said the country imports about USD11 billion worth of goods from China through formal channels.

"With our new trade relationship, we can now monitor smuggling from China," said Salceda, who is the vice chair of the House appropriations and ways and means committees.

He said an independent assessment placed at USD34 billion the estimated worth of smuggled goods from China but the country's formal records had placed it at USD17 billion.

President Duterte's four-day state visit to China has garnered USD24 billion worth of investments and financing agreements broken down into USD15 billion investment projects and USD9 billion credit facilities.

Salceda said the country can achieve stable and higher growth as the country expands its potentials under the Duterte administration through “equidistant economic relations with other countries.”

He said that Filipino investors are “heavily exposed” with their investments estimated at USD6 billion in China.

"We need this kind of economic rebalancing especially with China," said the Albay lawmaker.

He said the country has a USD5 billion negative trade imbalance with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) while with the United States the country had posted a positive 1.5 percent and with Japan, another positive 5 percent.

Salceda said stronger relations with China can ensure higher growth as well as balanced trade with the ASEAN countries.

He cited Vietnam as a model of having a pragmatic foreign policy among the ASEAN countries.

Salceda said Vietnam has strong trade relationships with China but is not afraid to challenge the powerful country based on its claims in the South China Sea.

“Vietnam buys military equipment from Russia and allows that country to drill for oil in its territorial waters.

The US is moving closer to Vietnam as it strengthens its military pivot in the Pacific and has recently dropped its arm embargo on Vietnam,” he said.

Salceda said Vietnam is a signatory to the European Union Free Trade Agreement and the US-initiated Trans-Pacific Partnership in which the Philippines is not a member.

He said the country should not just focus on the ASEAN.

Salceda cited the beneficial impact of the Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) of USD3 billion, of which USD2 billion came from the Asean Development Bank and World Bank.

"We are now a lender to the International Monetary Fund, and a net payer to the ASEAN Development Bank and the World Bank," he said.

"We can ensure our high growth potential if we can replicate treaties like the Japan- Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) because of which the country was able to achieve a USD34.3 billion advantage,” he added.

Salceda also wants the country to take advantage of being a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution initiated by China that aims to support the building of infrastructures in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said the goal of AIIB is to construct a road system from Paris to Shanghai then to Thailand down to Malaysia and Singapore.

"If we are not part of this we will be like a bouy bobbing up and down in the middle of the ocean unconnected," said Salceda, former co-chair of the Green Climate Fund board representing the developing countries in 2013 to 2014.

Salceda said “China is just a start.” (PNA) FPV/GVR/AT/EBP