Thursday, November 5, 2015

Philippines told: Ensure 'inclusive development' for citizens

A leading socio-political analyst has reminded the Philippine government to ensure "inclusive development" for Filipinos during discussions at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM).

Assistant professor at the De La Salle University and opinion columnist at Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post, Richard Heydarian, on Wednesday (Nov. 4) warned the Philippines against "uncritically" jumping into the APEC's "trading bandwagon".,

"As for the Philippines, we have to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each of these initiatives and not uncritically jump into any trading bandwagon," he added. "We have to make sure we come on top and create inclusive development for our citizens."

Heydarian said that during the leaders' meeting on November 18 and 19, the United States and China will go head-to-head on the competing free trade agreements both are pushing for.

The US is pushing for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which Heydarian described as "a high-standard trade liberalization scheme aimed at a more comprehensive overhaul of member economies, greatly benefiting American multinationals".

It is the cornerstone of the Obama administration's economic policy in the Asia Pacific, with the first round of just-concluded negotiations including Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan.

It aims to deepen trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, a key destination for US manufactured goods, agricultural products and services suppliers.

On the other hand, China will be urging the regional bloc to agree with the Free Trade Agreements and Regional Trading Agreements (FTAAP), China's landmark initiative during the APEC summit in Beijing last year.

Heydarian said the FTAAP will be less stringent, "but will heavily benefit Chinese exporters".

He added that Beijing will also likely invite APEC member economies to look into its major infrastructure spending initiatives under the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Maritime Silk Road projects.

The Philippines said it is still reviewing the possibility of joining the AIIB, an initiative by China that is focused on supporting infrastructure development in the Asia-Pacific region.

The creation of the AIIB, however, happened amid rising tensions between Beijing and Manila over competing claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The AELM will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center on November 18 and 19.

Although there is no complete list yet of leaders who would be attending the gathering, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have already confirmed their participation.

There is no word yet on the attendance of Chinese President Xi Jinping, although National Organizing Council (NOC) Director General Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Jr. said there was no indication any of the 20 leaders will not be attending the November meeting. (PNA/PCOO News Release)

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