Roperos: Integration

IT is like being in the path of a brewing storm where we do know it is coming but we do not know what is going to happen. There seems to be a frenzy among the various offices that have something to do with the development and growth of our economy, especially in coordination with offices and agencies of other countries of Southeast Asia.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 has drafted “a list of action plans for various sectors of the region to cushion the impact of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration next year. For the first time, a member nation will be planning its moves in relation to the plans of the other member nations.

On our part, the lead agency of our planning task force has chosen the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Its director said that in order “to maximize opportunities and mitigate the challenges, the region decided to organize a task force to study the impact of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on various sectors of the region and to recommend safety nets.”

The task force is composed of some six member agencies that conducted focus group discussions (FGD) on the concerns of each sector. Among the sectors are retail trade, creative, manufacturing, tourism, logistics, information and communication technology (ICT), food and agriculture. The DTI director revealed that so far, they have already conducted seven out of ten AEC discussion groups.

In order to flourish with the AEC, the DTI director said, Central Visayas, as well as the Philippines, needs to focus more on people development, competitiveness, innovations, regulatory reforms, and “most especially a change in mindset.” Indeed, given the challenges of the integration, such as scarcity of talents, competitive pressures, and brain drain, focus groups chose the opportunities.

It is interesting to note that, as a matter of strategy, the master plan for the retail sector involves a massive harnessing of information and education campaigns on the Asean Economic Community (AEC) not only to the sector players or retail players and the business institutions, “but also to consumers.”

Marking a concern for the consumers is the proposal to pass an enabling law to regulate the cost of marketing. The FDG is concerned with the high cost of displaying products in store windows, since the “current cost is not conducive to small and medium enterprise retailers.”

The group is said to be also assessing the possibility of creating a tripartite council that can address “issues on high freight, logistics, and operating cost. This also includes assurance of quality, detection of counterfeit items, and low interest rates.

The other sectors that are being looked into by the FDG also include the production of goods, such as manufacturing. This sector is looking at the government on a wider and costlier scale since it concerns manufacturing support such as infrastructure. This means roads and bridges, as well as good and quality roads and highways.

In short, this and more means better future and life for all of us.
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