THE 10-NATION ASEAN Â is home to 600 million people. The region is part of Asia a region which by 2030- will house 75% of the world’s Middle Class.
By this year, the ten nations, namely, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia,Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, will open their markets by simplifying procedures and basically lowering tariffs Â making it cheaper for these nationalities to get goods and services from one another. Â Â
How will the ASEAN integration affect some of our industries?
The Philippine tourism Â industry made some US$ 4.69 Billion last year. Projections for 2014-2016 forecast that ASEAN travelers will average 102 million every year. A huge market.
For tourism, it is both a challenge and opportunity for RP. It could draw Filipinos to cheaper tour sites in the ASEAN so that strategic “twinnings” or package tours for two countries is now Â being seriously studied. Â Say, for example, Â a Â Bohol and Thailand Â package. The 384 tour operators in the Philippines will have to create some “synergism” with their ASEAN counterparts to maintain competitiveness.
The local tourists could start wringing their heads towards other reasonably priced Â Asean tourist havens. On the other hand, Â the integration also creates a wide new market for vaunted Philippine sites like Bohol – to attract a huge regional market.How do we market?
An independent study indicated that when countries have Â more liberal visa rules, there was a marked increase in the number of Â tourists going to Â naturally attractive tour areas. For instance, such a visa liberalization is supposed to hike by 6-10 million – additional tourists to and among the ASEANs.
Bohol, therefore, badly needs the Panglao international airport Â to bring the ASEANs straight to Bohol without passing through the lousy NAIA airport (one of the world’s worst) Â and the horrible traffic in Manila and Cebu . The Tagbilaran city airport must be upgraded immediately as the ASEAN integration starts this year, already.Â Our Tagbilaran city Â sea port likewise Â needs massive rehabilitation.
Needless to say, prices of tourist resorts, restaurants land travel in Bohol Â must even become more competitive and tour workers Â here more professional and world-class.We are now competing with the whole ASEAN region. Â A sine qua non , is that Bohol “peace and order” situation must remainÂ impeccable.
What about real estate? There is the pressing charter changes on economic matters Â being hatched at the Lower House Â that will allow foreigners to own land in the Philippines. If that is passed by the senate and becomes an organic law, prices of land everywhere will rise , including those in Bohol. ASEAN foreign investors will be coming in and Â looking.
Without that new law , Bohol real estate can still Â get some “spill over” effect Â on real estate with the enormous growth rate Â being enjoyed now by neighboring Cebu.
It is the agriculture Â sector Â that the country will face Â the most negative telling effects. It is because of the problem of Â the Â very low productivity of our agri products Â shown by the fact that while Â 30% of Filipinos are engaged in agriculture – Â agriculture only accounts for Â a very low 12% of the nation’s GDP ( Gross Domestic Product).
Bohol, on the one hand, prides itself that it is a net “exporter” Â of rice to other provinces because we produce more than we consume of rice. Fine. But it is a fact that Thailand and Vietnam rice is much cheaper than the best we can Â ever produce. With the lowering of tariffs , do our rice farmers have a chance? Today the country remains 56% dependent on imported rice while it spends P 4-B a year to subsidize the NFA.
For how long will that remain tenable and logical to do? While we need more irrigation dams- to increase rice production productivity- Â there is a P12-Billion Â “lump sum” budget Â included in Â the 2015 GAA for “dams” without specifics. Is this how seriously we take our rice productivity? How can Pinoy farmers compete?
A large hectarage of Bohol is planted with aging coconut trees with only a P25,000 income per hectare bringing many to levels under the poverty line. It is , therefore, important that the P75-Billion Coco Levy Fund (freed by the Supreme Court for the farmers’ direct usage) Â must be immediately used to rehabilitate sick plantations, distribute high yield coco Â varieties, do intense research and mechanize the production of coco by -products for the industry Â to stand a chance.
Without that and with Â cheap-costing Â coconut products (especially oil) produced abroad- what is the future , honestly, of the coconut industry including the one in Bohol?
The Philippines has a huge population of over 100 million people – and very young one at Â an average age of 23 years old. It is an attractive market for ASEAN companies needing market share, Do our industries stand a chance against these cheap ASEAN goods and services?
Finally, the country has been named the fifth Â most “mineralised” Â country in the world. Much of our minerals are undeveloped due to the huge capital investments not within the reach of even the richest Philippine industrialists.
Will cheap foreign capital come in and exploit our Â resources? How can we prevent that from degrading our environment in the process?Will the ASEAN taipans Â set up their Â malls selling their own -produced cheap goods in our midst?
ASEAN integration, therefore, is both and bane. Let each of us prepare how to ride on Â or survive the situation.
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