THE PHILIPPINES runs the risk of courting US trade sanctions for “doing business” with North Korea and the government is concerned enough to study its next steps on this matter.

Philippines could be at risk of US sanctions for North Korea trade

US President Donald Trump had tweeted on Sept. 4 that “The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea,” hours after that reclusive state conducted its most powerful nuclear weapon test so far.

Using data of the Observatory of Economic Complexity, which renders international trade data in visual form, the World Economic Forum recently showed on its Web site that the Philippines shipped $53.2 million worth of goods to North Korea in 2015 — behind China ($2.95 billion), India ($108 million), Russia ($78.2 million) and Thailand ($73.8 million) — accounting for more than one percent of the hermit state’s $3.47-billion imports that year.

The Philippines has joined other countries in voicing concern over Pyongyang’s repeated disregard of United Nations resolutions since 2006 against that country’s nuclear and missile tests.

“We’re in discussion with DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) on what we can do moving forward,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in an interview yesterday in Pasay City. “May commitment naman tayo diyan. May mga products na hindi mo talaga pwedeng i-trade with North Korea (We have commitments. There are products that we cannot trade with North Korea). I’d go as far as that.”

The US was the Philippines’ second-biggest export market last year next to Japan, with $8.851 billion in sales. It was also the Philippines’ third-biggest import source next to China and Japan, with $7.576-billion inbound shipments. — V. V. Saulon