Preparing the Philippines for the ASEAN Economic Community 2015

(Eagle News Service) — Starting 2015, the whole ASEAN region will be moving towards the ASEAN economic community (AEC) wherein there will be a single market economy with free movement of goods, services and investments throughout the 10-member nations of the ASEAN.  It would be the culmination of the regional grouping’s economic efforts since the 1990s.

There are two conflicting views emerging in the Philippines on whether or not the country is ready for economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) under the ASEAN economic community (AEC) which will start to take effect next year.  There are sectors that fear this integration, and there are those optimistic about the AEC.

But what does ASEAN economic integration really entail?  And is the country prepared for this?

International trade policy expert, Atty. Anthony Amunategui Abad, guests in this Nov. 27, 2014 episode of ASEAN in Focus as he explains what the ASEAN economic integration would mean for the country.

Abad is also a panelist of the dispute settlement panel of the World Trade Organization, a CEO and managing partner of the Trade Advisory Group;  director of the Ateneo Center for International Economic Law (ACIEL); and professor at the Ateneo De Manila University, at the school of law.

Abad said the Philippines should embrace the ASEAN integration as soon as possible as this would actually benefit the country.

He said it would force the cartels and monopolies that are currently controlling the country’s economy to be more disciplined, follow the rules of the market, improve their products and lower their prices, Abad said.

“We must jump into this, we must embrace ASEAN integration as soon as possible because I think the Philippines will be probably be one of the countries that will benefit most from this ASEAN integration,” he said during the ASEAN in Focus interview.

Abad further noted:  “I guess studies will show that the Philippines is actually the country with the greatest level of inequality — between the 99 % and the one percent that own everything.”

“What integration does now is it makes this one percent become more disciplined because they have to follow the market, they have to now improve their product, they have to lower the prices, and they have to start treating the rest of the 99% with a little more respect the way the community should do. So that is what I guess the concept is…. It’s not just technically an economic integration, but really the formation of a community of different countries, and forcing us to realize internally our own weaknesses and inequalities,” Abad explained.

He also pushed for the immediate amendment of the economic provisions in the constitution, particularly the removal of the economic restrictions, that he said is not anymore viable in the AEC scenario.

Abad is also a former administrator of the National Food Authority, and a former chairman and president of the Food Terminal, Inc. He was also a tariff commissioner and was responsible for the determination of the overall tariff structure for the Philippines and the formulation of international trade policy.  He presided over anti-dumping and other trade remedy investigations, and monitored regional and multilateral trade relations

This series and the program ASEAN IN FOCUS of NET 25 (Monday  to Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., with replays 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) is part of Eagle Broadcasting’s advocacy to promote awareness about the ASEAN region and the 2015 ASEAN integration.   ASEAN in Focus features news and features about the ASEAN region and the ASEAN integration process, and includes interviews of noted resource persons who share their views about the ASEAN integration process.

ASEAN in Focus is hosted by Alma Angeles, Neah Mangawang and Rachel Martin.  Dr. Carlos Tabunda Jr., an executive fellow of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), is the program’s resident ASEAN resource person.