PH-China maritime dispute 'no impact' on economy: Lopez

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2019 04:35 PM

A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

BANGKOK, Thailand - Beijing and Manila's opposing claims over the sovereignty on South China sea do not have any impact on the economy, a trade official said Friday. 

Despite the maritime dispute, there is free flow of goods and no restrictions on trading of goods have been imposed, trade secretary Ramon Lopez said in a press briefing in Bangkok ahead of the 34th ASEAN Summit. 

“There’s no impact, because that’s more of political security, geopolitical issue, not really economic in nature,” Lopez said. 

“Ang nakikita po namin, there’s free flow of goods. Wala namang restrictions ng mga commercial vessels at transaction, pagpasok at paglabas ng goods,” he added.

(What we see is a free flow of goods. There are no restrictions on commercial vessels and transactions as well as the import and export of goods.)

The Reed Bank incident, where a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and sunk a Filipino fishing boat, and where 22 fishermen were left behind at sea, put the maritime dispute on the spotlight. 

A 2016 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected the basis of Beijing’s claim over the South China Sea. China has since ignored the decision and continued patrols in disputed areas. The Philippines, under President Rodrigo Duterte, did not flaunt the win, opting for a friendlier approach to Beijing.