Philippines-Taiwan: Time to Embrace

Manila Bulletin, March 15, 2014 | Go to article overview

Philippines-Taiwan: Time to Embrace


Last 05-09 March, this writer had the welcome opportunity to visit Taiwan and head a delegation of 60 professionals and businessmen from different parts of the Philippines including members of the Taiwan Chamber of the South Philippines (TCSP) to engage with their Taiwanese counterparts.

Coming Full Circle In Taiwan

The members of the Philippine Delegation also participated in the 6th Taiwan-Philippines Friendship Golf Tournament (FVR Cup), an annual event that continues to provide an attractive venue for business networking, new products search, as well as sports competition and camaraderie.

The 6th FVR Cup competition centered on Taoyuan County (where Taiwan's ultra-modern International Airport is located near Taipei) and, in effect, "rounded out" into full circle our familiarization over the years with Taiwan from South-North-East-West and back.

Taiwan has remained a major investor throughout Southeast Asia with a particularly strong presence in the Philippines in the electronics, telecommunications, information technology, construction, textiles, mining, banking, electric power, food processing, pharmaceuticals and tourism industries. Taiwan, which is ranked as the world's 24th largest economy is the Philippines' 7th largest source of foreign direct investment and 6th largest trading partner.

Taiwan currently hosts some 89,000 Filipino workers and has consistently been a source of sizable development cooperation assistance, particularly in industrial design, agriculture, aquaculture, weather forecasting and technical skills training.

Adhering To "One-China" Policy

Because the Philippines adheres to the "One-China Policy," it is represented in Taiwan by a trade/cultural office - the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO). On the other hand, Taiwan is represented in the Philippines and nearby countries, by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO).

It should be noted that the "One-China Policy" does not prohibit trade, economic, cultural, sports and other "people-to-people" relationships. The Philippines has been extra-alert in recognizing the warming up between Beijing and Taipei since four years ago when "Cross-Strait" relations substantially improved with the removal of the "3rd country" requirement for travelers/tourists from both sides.

As he always does in his foreign trips, FVR met and interacted with the leaders of the Filipino community in Taipei, led by MECO representative, (Ambassador) Antonio I. Basilio. MECO's main headquarters is located in Makati City, and is headed by Chairman Amadeo Perez Jr., prominent Pangasinan leader.

Other members of our delegation included Congressman Roy Loyola (Cavite-5th District) and his wife (Dr.) Dahlia Loyola, who is also the Mayor of Carmona, Cavite and a number of Filipino-American "balikbayans."

Carmona happens to be the nucleus of the businesses and factories of the Taiwan South Philippines Chamber, which was led by Founding President Chen Wu-Ju, along with former TCSP Presidents Peter Lei and Kevin Su, and their wives -- Flora, Cecile and Jenny, respectively, who all speak Tagalog and English like native Filipinos having grown up in the Philippines.

New Developments

(1) On Labor: The level of deployment and OFW population level in Taiwan appears to have normalized. As of end of December 2013, we had already exceeded the previous high at the end of May 2013 of 88,700 just after the 09 May Balintang Channel incident, to reach 89,000 at the end of 2013. From all indications, this increasing trend is bound to continue.

The sectors that Filipino workers dominate are the Electronic Parts and Components Manufacturing (30,400); Fabricated Metal Products Manufacturing (6,900); and Computers, Electronic and Optical Products Manufacturing (6,000). Other promising fields of participation are Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing (4,000) and Textiles (3,600). …

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