What a Trump or Clinton win could mean for ASEAN

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2016 02:48 PM

MANILA - Under a Donald Trump administration, the United States may further disengage from the Southeast Asian region, while Hillary Clinton may renew and improve America's pivot to Asia if elected, an analyst said Wednesday.

Speaking with ANC, political science professor Dr. Aries Arugay noted that evidently, Southeast Asia has not been given a lot of attention by the US despite its huge population and economic strength. 

He added, US investments in the region are more than the investments of China, Japan, and the European Union combined.

"However, in terms of foreign policy and security commitments, the US is seen as basically neglecting Southeast Asia in comparison for example to its gaze upon the Middle East and other regions of the world," he said.

For Arugay, Trump engages more in terms of "transactional politics," wherein he would likely have some mutuality of some interest in region, but probably would not deal with human rights records of Southeast Asian countries and their democratic qualities in the regimes as a Democrat president would.

"I think a Trump presidency would mean further disengagement in Southeast Asia in terms of security and foreign policy, but maybe some continued engagement in the economics," he said.

Among these economic concerns in a Trump presidency is the possible transfer of several American business process outsourcing companies from the Philippines and India back to the US to create jobs for the Americans.

Arugay asserted, during the campaign period in the US, candidates are "really pandering to the public," and the mention of job creation will "raise the attention of American voters." 

He believes, the economic costs of bringing this industry back in America may discourage businessmen and investors from doing so.

"This threat of retreating the BPO industry from countries like the Philippines or India towards the US will require more in terms of resources because economically speaking, it’s really more efficient to establish those here," he said.

"Most of the investors or businesses to really think that to what extent the cost of maintaining this in the Philippines or in India would affect if this is pushed or returned to the United States," he added.


Arugay meanwhile believes if Clinton wins, she may push for an improvement of America's 'Pivot to Asia,' which was started in the administration of Barack Obama, during which she was Secretary of State.

"I think we’ll see, under a Clinton presidency, there will be an attempt to maybe a new and improved ‘Pivot to Asia’ in the sense of while this was seen under Obama as one of the landmark foreign policy statements," he said.

Arugay argues, the region believed that "it’s more talk than walk," and China for one saw it as a way of containing increasing Chinese presence in the region.

In a Clinton presidency, he added, her familiarity with several Southeast Asian leaders like Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and the Philippines' Gloria Arroyo may play a big role.

"There’s more familiarity given her experience as First Lady, but she will increasingly try to fortify US presence in the ASEAN regional architecture," he said.

"Her experience as First Lady and Secretary of State really puts her in a position where she knows she can put ASEAN or Southeast Asia in her radar as president," he added.

Arugay also noted that so far, the people Clinton is eyeing to be her Asia foreign policy team are "well-seasoned, very competent individuals," while Trump provides little predictability on the team he will bring to focus on the region if he becomes president.

For more updates on the US polls, visit ABS-CBN's US Presidential Elections 2016 page.