MANILA — The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) may not be the ideal place to gather solutions to the country’s problems, says research group IBON Foundation. The group is reacting to Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s statement that he will listen to strategies and proposals that may help the Philippine economy at the ongoing APEC summit in Honolulu.
The APEC official statements will try to highlight collective efforts made by its members to address the global economic crisis, including the Eurozone problems. However, given the severity of the global crisis, the reality will be of each country looking out for itself even at the expense of others.
The US, for instance, which is among the most shaken by the crisis, is among the most aggressive in looking for commercial opportunities overseas. Among other, it is strongly pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional free trade pact between the US and Asia-Pacific countries.The Philippine government has already expressed its intention to join the TPP.
The US push to further open up economies in the region through free trade will greatly benefit its ailing economy but will stifle their local industries even more. This has already been the case in the Philippines after three decades of neoliberal economic policies. According to IBON, adverse global trends and world events now emphasize that it is domestic-focused development policies that will create jobs and solve the country’s economic woes.
Philippine interests are better served by focusing on domestic measures to strengthen local economy rather than on an outdated and increasingly irrelevant export-oriented and foreign-investment fixated model. Rather than gathering proposals from the APEC summit, IBON urges the Aquino government to instead listen to proposals from local business and producers to build Filipino industry and agriculture. It will be better if government focuses on getting the local economy in order and ensure that jobs are created, incomes raised and growth truly inclusive, says IBON.