DESPITE the positive view of our country’s economic observers, many of them expressed concern nevertheless about the latest development in the business sector. It seems that China has recently been flooding its Asian neighbors with cheap export products.

Filipino businessmen, particularly the shoemakers, said they are in the toughest of times, reported Sun.Star Cebu yesterday in its business page.

It seems that the shoemaking sector in the province, especially in Carcar town, complained that cheap shoe “imports” from China is flooding the local market and driving their products from it. As a result, many of the local cobblers are quitting their trade and looking for other jobs that are more rewarding.

A source said that the shoe industry is losing out to foreign products, thus if it is not given support, it “might die.”

The president of the Carcar United Footwear and Manufacturing Association, Inc., (Cufmai), said that the shoemaking industry has not yet recovered from the entry of more and more cheap footwear from China.

“Plus we are facing a greater threat than competition,” he added. “We are closely losing our shoemakers.” He said that those who coauld not keep up with the competition closed shop and shifted to other businesses.

I think that the state of the shoe-making industry in our province should be taken as a fair and effective indicator of the economic situation of the region in relation to its business atmosphere.

I do not mean just the Visayan region but the geographical region that constitute the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). And we may include three other nations: China, Japan, and South Korea, which are geographically closer to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

(We can include here Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Burma, too. But they are not closely identified with the five countries of Asean I mentioned earlier and which maintain social, industrial, and commercial ties among themselves.)

At any rate, what appears to be rather disturbing to the socio-economic relationship of the countries I cited above is what I call as the China factor.

Among the five nations plus the three that I pointed out, China appears to me as the most aggressive, and may possibly become quite diplomatically unreasonable when it tries to push its political and economic interest. We have already seen how it is taking advantage of its geopolitical position over the South China Sea.

Definitely, the economic condition of Asean and the rest of the Asian region may have all to depend on how China behaves as a political catalyst in our part of the globe.