America’s inauguration of its 45th President sent jitters across the world as to the future of foreign policies, said research group IBON. For the Philippines, whose economy has been influenced largely by the US for many decades, this is an opportune time to rethink its economic policies and its relations not only with the superpower but with other nations that have the same interests in the Philippines as the US, IBON said.
Controversial Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump with campaign motto ‘make America great again’ defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the US November polls. According to IBON, Trump’s inaugural themes such as ‘America first’, ‘buy America, hire America’, and ‘American carnage ends now’, and Trans Pacific Partnership pullout in preference of bilateral deals hint a more aggressive US in terms of engaging with other nations. This, as the US economy remains a struggling one despite recent claims of recovery.
Though reportedly recovering from 2009 recession levels, IBON noted that the US economy continues to be confronted with stagnant wages, weakened industrial production, soaring prices of goods and services, rising inequality, and huge government budget deficits, among others. The group said that aside from heightening American protectionism, the new US administration may impose more stringent market-oriented policies on the Philippines and the rest of Asia Pacific as it has in recent decades through platforms such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Asia Pacific remains economically vital to the US, being home to over half of global gross domestic product (GDP), almost half of global trade and 60% of total US trade, said IBON.
In the Philippines, major mechanisms of US political and economic intervention remain intact, IBON observed. Aside from upholding a string of military deals with the US and receiving the same amount of US military aid for 2017, the latter also still remains the single biggest foreign influence on Philippine economy policy-making. The US$739-million Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative and the American and Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce are tools in imposing neoliberal globalization policies that allow the US to maintain its dominance in the country and in the region, for instance by pushing for unhampered trade and the removal of foreign ownership restrictions.
IBON reiterated that these globalization policies have increasingly kept the Philippine economy backward and underdeveloped. This has led to growing inequality, chronic poverty, jobs deterioration, commercialization of basic utilities and services, and marginalization of resources, leaving the majority of Filipinos deprived of their fundamental needs.
The group pointed out that in this time of change in administration and policy shifts, the Philippines can define a foreign policy that is finally independent of the US and other superpowers’ agenda. The Philippines can also strengthen its alliance with neighbors with growing nationalism such as Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia and further, China, Taiwan, Japan and India, towards developing a solid regional position against US or any other superpower’s aggression, said IBON.