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Philippines Business Group Backs UN’s Urgent Call for Gaza Ceasefire

The International Chamber of Commerce-Philippines chapter actively echoed its Paris headquarters’ plea for an immediate halt to hostilities in Gaza. This urgent call comes in response to the dire humanitarian crisis resulting from three weeks of relentless conflict.

In a recent interview, Jesus Varela, the Director General of ICC Philippines, passionately expressed the multinational business organization’s unwavering support. He stood firmly behind the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s resolution, which called for a “humanitarian ceasefire.”

Varela emphasized, “We wholeheartedly endorse the ceasefire resolution. Beyond the suffering endured by civilians in Gaza, the looming threat of the conflict escalating and spreading across the region is causing global markets to tremble. Just look at the surging international oil prices.”

The ICC has a presence in over 100 countries. Its mission is to facilitate international business. Moreover, the group currently maintains observer status at the UN.

Most countries vote in favour of ceasefire in Gaza

On Friday, the UN General Assembly, consisting of 193 member states, decisively adopted the resolution with a vote of 120 in favour, 14 against, and 45 abstentions. This non-binding resolution represents the UN’s inaugural official response to the ongoing war.

The Israeli ambassador to the Philippines, Illan Fluss, had previously stated that the ongoing Gaza crisis would minimally affect the burgeoning bilateral trade between the Philippines and Israel. He informed reporters in Manila on Friday that people and goods freely move to and from Israel despite the ongoing crisis.

However, Varela explained that the protracted conflict in Gaza, which carries the potential to involve neighboring nations, will surely result in broader economic repercussions.

Subsequently, he stressed, “I believe it’s time for reason to prevail. Israel has already demonstrated its military prowess. It has also avenged its citizens affected by the Hamas attack on October 7th. Pursuing peace is the most prudent course of action at this juncture. It will alleviate the suffering of many and provide reassurance to the business sector.”

Despite the Gaza crisis, Varela’s optimism for Israel’s role in the Philippine economy remains unwavering. He places particular emphasis on the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and foresees sustained growth in the years ahead.

The Israel Economic and Commercial Mission to the Philippines made a remarkable estimate. They calculated that bilateral trade in goods and services had exceeded USD 534 million in 2022. Thus, reaching an all-time high in their 65-year trade relationship.

Back in June, Yael Ravia-Zadok, Head of the Economic Affairs Division at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confidently predicted. She foresaw that bilateral trade between Manila and Tel Aviv would reach USD 1 billion by 2024. Overall, this growth would be driven by investments in agriculture, water management, and tourism.

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