COMPANIES in the Asia-Pacific need to participate in the trade restrictions against Russia to hasten the end of the war in Ukraine, a US Commerce department official said.

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Administration Matthew Borman said in a conference call that Russia’s invasion represented a breach of international law, and the international community, including individual companies, must respond accordingly.

“We’re certainly looking (at) all companies all over the world, particularly in Asia, to make sure they do their due diligence so that any transactions that they’re contemplating undertaking with Russia are consistent with our requirements,” he said.

“Export controls are only effective because of the work the (US) administration did to secure the coordination of our allies across the world,” he added, noting that the US government is currently engaged in more than 50 working-level discussions with partner nations.

Mr. Borman said the US is contemplating more sanctions on trade with Russia by restricting more categories beyond the initial round, which took some Russian banks off the SWIFT system, a tool institutions use to identify and communicate with other institutions worldwide to facilitate transferring funds. The US also stopped buying Russian oil, which accounted for 3% of its oil imports.

The US, he added, plans to approach countries that have the capacity to produce, test, and package electronics, as well as those that have a significant aerospace industry, including maintenance and repair facilities.

Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov has said that Moscow expects bilateral cooperation with the Philippines to continue as sanctions tighten against Moscow.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has said that he considers Russian President Vladimir Putin a personal friend, and promised to remain neutral, calling the war “not our battle to fight.”

When asked about the long-term effects the war may have on the world economy, Mr. Borman said much will depend on Russia’s response.

“In many respects, in the sectors we’ve been talking about, Russia is not that significant a player so there’s not, generally speaking, a market impact, and I think countries are generally appalled, frankly, about what Russia has done and the impact its actions have had on the rule of law,” he said.

“The impact may not be as much as some might think because it’s really (about) upholding the rule of law, which is the basis for the global economy,” he added.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno has said that the Philippines has limited exposure to Russia or Ukraine, potentially limiting the impact on the domestic local economy.

He said exports to Russia and Ukraine totaled $120 million and $5 million last year, calling these totals “negligible.”

According to BSP data, cash remittances from Filipinos in Russia and Ukraine in 2021 amounted to $2.261 million and $121,000. Inflows from Europe overall were worth $3.745 billion while the global total was $31.417 billion.

However, Mr. Diokno acknowledged that the war could dampen global growth by driving up commodity prices. Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, metals, wheat and fertilizer. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top exports include corn, wheat and some metals.

“The United States is grateful for the partnerships we have with the government and companies in the Asia-Pacific region and we hope to continue to grow our coalition,” Mr. Borman said, noting that Washington is willing to work with any government in Asia to explain its policy in more detail.

China has declined condemn the invasion of Ukraine and has not imposed any sanctions on Russia, according to the BBC.

Allies like Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have imposed sanctions, with Tokyo and Seoul also blocking some Russian banks from SWIFT. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan