Gearing up for the Asean Economic Community 2015

Sharing a press release from NEDA

Free flow of goods, services, investments, capital and skilled labor are the core components of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Integration by 2015.  Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will greatly benefit from the trade and investment opportunities of this new trading arrangement.  Cutthroat competition, price wars and unemployment concerns, however, are inevitable consequences of this development and Western Visayas will have to brace itself and be ready to respond to these challenges.

(Top L-R): NEDA Director-General Arsenio M. Balisacan, PIDS President Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto, Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, DTI Assistant Secretary Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba and Dr. Adoracion M. Navarro

 To increase awareness and identify critical activities that need to be initiated and implemented in the region in preparation for the AEC integration, the Regional Development Council VI spearheaded the conduct of a Forum on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)  2015 on March 11, 2014 at Smallville 21 Hotel, Iloilo City.

The Regional Development Council (RDC VI) earlier created an AEC Ad Hoc Sub-Committee under its Economic Development Committee to coordinate initiatives and activities that will prepare Western Visayas for the eventual integration by 2015.  This year, one of the kickoff activities of the ad hoc sub-committee is the conduct of a forum on the ASEAN Economic Community and the conduct of meetings to identify and discuss possible activities that could prop and boost the economy and stakeholders in Region VI for the AEC integration.

The AEC 2015 Forum was conducted on March 11, 2016 at Smallville 21, Iloilo City attended by prominent business leaders, heads of non-government organizations, presidents of higher education institutions, officials of national government agencies, local government executives and the local media. 

Socio-economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director- General Arsenio M. Balisacan was the keynote speaker, along with experts from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) to lecture on topics in terms of what to expect in 2015, what have been done and is being done by the government and private sectors in the country, and what else needs to be done.

DOST-VI Regional Director Rowen R. Gelonga, Chairperson of the AEC Ad Hoc Committee and Chairperson of the RDC-VI Economic Development Committee welcomed the participants to the forum and reminded everyone that the activity is very important considering that “we share the same future, our children will share the same future and therefore, we should craft the future together”. 

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan was the keynote speaker.  In his keynote speech “Gearing Up for AEC 2015: the Critical Role of the Country’s Regions,” the Secretary presented the ASEAN priority sectors that will be liberalized, ahead of other sectors, in order to achieve regional cohesiveness and enhance global competitiveness.

These sectors include agro-based products, air travel, automotives, e-ASEAN, electronics, fisheries, healthcare, rubber-based products, textiles and apparels, tourism, wood-based products, and logistics services.  Secretary Balisacan stressed that the Philippines stands to benefit from the continued liberalization of the services sector as it is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country accounting for 53 percent of the country’s labor force in 2013.

Resource speakers from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) included Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto, President of PIDS, who gave an overview of the AEC 2015; Dr. Roehlano M. Briones who talked about “AEC Blueprint: Implementation and Effectiveness Assessment  for Philippine Agriculture;” Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba who discussed “AEC 2015 and SMEs;” and Dr. Adoracion M. Navarro who covered “Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Towards AEC 2015.”

The NEDA-VI staff led by Regional Director Ro-Ann A. Bacal, took note of the concerns raised during the open forum and will be processing these for  further discussion at the RDC-VI committee level.  Presentation materials of the Forum have been uploaded in the NEDA-VI website for ready reference by the general public.

There will inevitably winners and losers as a result of the ASEAN integration.  The important thing to do is prepare our institutions and prepare our economy in order to be ready to face the challenges that the integration will bring. /YGBatacandolo, NEDA VI

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