Gov’t eyeing quake impact

Gov’t eyeing quake impact

by UA&P News Desk on March 14, 2011 - 3:49 pm

From Business World, with reports from Antonio Siegfrid O. Alegado, Ana Mae G. Roa and Johanna D. Poblete

THE PHILIPPINES could see its economy suffer some fallout as Japan — a major trade and development partner — struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake and tsunami, analysts and industry officials said.

Malacañang yesterday acknowledged that an assessment would have to be made but said its immediate priorities were the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in quake-hit areas and reviewing local readiness for similar disasters.

“Definitely we’re going to have an assessment of the impact. [We need to see] how bad the situation is in Japan and infer from this what is the economic impact,” Sec. Ricky A. Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said in a telephone interview.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, in a radio interview, yesterday urged President Benigno S. C. Aquino III to consult experts, noting among others possible trade and aid losses.

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Asked to assess the likely impact of the disaster, University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno, a former Budget secretary, said “exports, remittances and ODA flows will be affected negatively.”

Businessmen, however, claimed any trade impact would be limited. The Philippines, they also said, could benefit as Japanese firms move to restock.

“There will be effects on exports. But it will not be for long as Japan will replenish its inventory,” Philippine Exporters Confederation of the Philippines President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a telephone interview on Saturday.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Francis C. Chua, for his part, yesterday said there would be “misallocations in the short-term.”

“However, the Philippines may be able to participate in Japan’s reconstruction,” he added.

The families of OFWs who likely lost their means of livelihood, said University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) economist Emil T. Antonio, would bear the immediate brunt of the disaster.

“The [economic] effect will be felt by the families of the OFWs more than anyone else,” Mr. Antonio said.

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