Posted tagged ‘ASEAN’

ASEAN BETTER LAUNCH THE ASIAN MONETARY FUND NOW!

November 23, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Buoyed up by the positive economic performances and regional integration efforts of ASEAN member-states, let me ensue with the ASEAN agenda, and articulate this time the matter of the Asian Monetary Fund or AMF. What makes the urgency of constituting the AMF even more exigent is the recent pronouncement made by the Asian Development Bank or ADB about the same theme: launch the AMF now!

The idea of an Asian Monetary Fund actually began with the late strong man Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Awash with colossal hoards  of gold, Marcos vouched for the creation of an Asian Monetary Fund that shall function as monetary stabilizer, steward of an Asian currency, and financer of bold development projects.

As per note from some of his own former close supporters (they were my fellow economists in the Independent Review, c. 1998 to 2000), Marcos was very eager to back up (securitize) the Asian currency with his very own gold hoards (they amount to hundreds of trillions of US. $ today).

It was too bad that Marcos had downside images among the global financiers, who conspired behind the scenes to overthrow him. They never liked the idea of an AMF that will compete with their stooge thug bank International Monetary Fund, and they were salivating to control his gold hoards. The Trilateral Commision in fact undertook steps toward aiding the process of social turbulence to unfold in the Philippines, turbulence that eventually overthrew the dictator.

It took some time before the AMF idea would resurface. The opportunity for resurfacing came with the Asian financial meltdown of 1997. That crisis saw the region’s currencies attacked by an insidious cabal of Western oligarchic financiers fronted by George Soros, who all rested happy from their criminal currency attacks that fattened their coffers by the trillions of dollars.

Thus came the technocratic and public policy responses to the crisis of that time, with the Asian Monetary Fund idea floating to the surface as a viable option. Necessarily, the stabilization of currencies will come with the institution of an Asian currency, which came alongside the AMF idea.

It then took many years of haggling and bargaining before a continental resolution was finally signed into a sort of a memorandum of undertaking. To recall, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives (Philippines), Hon. De Venecia, took much pains to legwork Asian leaders into finally signing the concordat and presenting the same to the Philippine state leaders for immediate action after accomplishing his mission.

This time around, it is the Asian Development Bank that has taken the cudgels for pushing for the urgent institution of the AMF. As articulated in a previous article, the ADB is among the continental institutions that can aid in launching an ASEAN central bank (circa 2015) as well as an Asian Monetary Fund.

Since the ASEAN is the most actively engaged regional formation among Asians, it is the most logical body that can facilitate the launching of the AMF. Its country members could easily role play the core membership of the AMF, with the quid pro quo that the latter will aid ASEAN in forming its regional central bank comes 2015.

As early as the late 90s yet, this analyst was very highly supportive of the institution of an AMF and Asian currency. The launching of the currency alone will catalyze the stabilization of monetary-fiscal environments, and can even out the very uneven cost of living situations across countries.

AMF would surely be of great help to insulating Asia’s emerging markets versus the destructive undercurrents of the economic crises of North America, Europe, and Japan. It can likewise aid enormously in regional trading efforts, precisely by securitizing and/of directly financing the pioneering and expansion efforts of exporters.

I would, however, add a caveat to the AMF’s formation: securitize the operations via a gold reserve standard or equivalent. The eradication of the gold standard in 1971 is among the factors behind monetary-financial instabilities and emergence of criminal financial predators over the last four (4) decades, predators that were responsible for de-industrialization, agricultural decay, and economic decline altogether.

The launching of the AMF shouldn’t be delayed a day longer. The global economic roof is collapsing due to the structural defects of the northern economies, and so as a measure of mitigation the region’s own economies be insulated from that crash through launching of the AMF, buffering financial collapse via collective money reserves for contingency uses, and instituting the Asian currency very soon.

To re-echo the theme: there is no better time to constitute the AMF than now. Act now, before it is too late!

[Philippines, 17 November 2010] 

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ASEAN ADOPTS RP’S NAUTICAL HIGHWAY

November 21, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you all! Magandang araw sa inyong lahat!

Let me return to the ASEAN, after delivering my kudos to Latin Americans and Brazilians over the presidential victory of the socialist Madam Rousseff there. How I wish that the ASEANians can emulate the audacious social policies of Brazil under the stewardship of the outgoing leader Lula and incoming Rousseff.

For the good news, the information has already been disseminated that the entire ASEAN is adopting the ‘nautical highway’ program of the Philippines. Accordingly, the planning stage for a regional nautical highway is now under way, with the program most likely implemented way before the 2015 economic integration here.

A brilliant idea, the nautical highway concept was actually hatched by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the previous president of the Philippines. A technocrat-politician, Arroyo surely found a remedy to the sluggish and inefficient transit of people and cargo across the seas in the archipelago.

To recall, Arroyo was an economist and academic before she joined government. As president of the country, she achieved the feat of solving the fiscal problems and doubling national income within a 9-year span. The Philippines finally graduated to middle-income country status during Macapagal’s incumbency.

Infrastructures also expanded by many folds during Arroyo’s incumbency. Roads, wharves, airports, levees, dams, and diverse public works benefited immensely from the boom years of her aegis. Within the context of the transport infrastructure programs did Arroyo conceptualize the RORO (roll on-roll off) nautical highway.

Executed with very high success levels, the nautical highway proceeded to deliver the expected result of accelerating the transit of people and goods across the seas. The RORO also brought down the cost of ship transportation, hence engendering a more mobile poor folks who could nil afford long distance travels.

As already elucidated in a previous article, it would be excellent if the nautical highway would be interlinked with a forthcoming regional railway. More excellent if the nautical highway, roads, railways, and airports would be interlinked in such an exquisite design of transport hubs.

ASEAN-wide planning takes a longer time than national planning, as there would be a preference for consultative process in the planning exercise. Let’s just hope that the planning phase won’t take longer than 1 & ½ years at the most, with the final output passing through a last grassroots or community hearing for discussions and feedbacks.

That means that as early as 2012, the regional RORO will be implemented. Infrastructure, technology, and logistical support will need to be installed and/or allotted by the 1st quarter of 2012 to ensure fast implementation of the program.

With the program implemented, hopefully the poor folks in the coastal areas won’t have to travel to islands of other countries by risky motored banca or canoes. The RORO ships would bring down risks, travel costs, and make travels very comfortable for poor folks and monied middle class alike.

This analyst highly appreciates the latest ASEAN collaborative efforts for building a regional nautical highway. May the planning, implementation, and monitoring/evaluation of the future program come forth with stunning success.

[Philippines, 16 November 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ASEAN’S THORN IN THROAT: BRITISH & AMERICAN IMPERIALISTS’ DIRTY ENGAGEMENTS

November 14, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

It definitely feels great to see my country and region booming economically at this time, boom marked by strengthening currencies, bourses, and investment environments. However, the climb of ASEAN to economic prosperity is being hampered by the rouge manipulations of the Saxon Empire—British imperialism and U.S. hegemonism combined.

Western empires are on the decline now, and will continue to fragment in the years to come. However, the greedy oligarchs of the said empires, notably the Saxons’, will always have dirty things to hatch and manipulate client-states, relentless acts that can ensure the gravitation of the latter towards the power orbits of the former.

Take the case of the USA. Already declining as an economic power, it still nurtures the mad agenda of a future war versus China and Russia, and is so desperate to control the necks of Indonesia and the Philippines as its obedient client-states. Obama may be the civil libertarian that he was as a young man, but those days are over, and he is performing the presidential role of his imperialist Saxon nation.

As of the 1990s yet, the USA was already in the heat of nurturing client-states in the ASEAN, with the agenda of isolating China in the long-run. Signing of ACSA (acquisition & cross-servicing agreements) were done in flurries of diplomatic talks (read: subtle bullying) that resulted to the likes of Indonesia and the Philippines being hooked up anew to the USA’s militaristic pursuits (the Philippines already abrogated the Military Bases Agreement that decade, only to sign an ACSA treaty later!).

Meantime, the British Empire, led by Queen Elizabeth herself in behalf of the Anglo-Dutch oligarchy’s interest, had long held the necks of the Sultan of Brunei, Lee Kwan Yew & leaders of Singapore, and King Bhimibol & bureaucratic puppets of Thailand. Inside Myanmar there’s the puppet Aung San Suu Kyi, while in Malaysia there’s Anwar Ibrahim.

Now, knowing the links of Aung San and Ibrahim to the British oligarchy, you should not wonder why the Mahathir leadership of Malaysia jailed Ibrahim while Myanmar’s generals continue to house-arrest Aung San Suu Kyi. The media moguls of both the West, who are in league with Queen Elizabeth and the American elites, have done every demonizing they can versus Mahathir and Myanmar’s generals, but have told nary an expose about the connection of Ibrahim and Aung San Suu Kyi to the Anglo-American-Dutch oligarchy.

The greed of the British & American oligarchs is very insatiable, they already had a taste of such greed by attacking the currencies of East Asia in mid-1997. That dirty operations, to recall, was executed by George Soros and the Quantum group’s 99 or so financiers, a dirty act that began with the attack on the Baht and expanded like wild fire to take on the ringgit, peso, and other currencies of the region.

Almost overnight, the developmental gains that took the East Asians many decades to build were wiped out! In just a couple of weeks or so, around $1.5 Trillion were taken home by the Soros & greedy financiers, while more were taken out as ‘hot money’ investments in the ASEAN were rapidly withdrawn by the same circle of financiers.

ASEAN is to a great extent being consumed by the clientelism or imperialism of the British and Americans, a reality that contributes to both political and economic instabilities in the region. For as long as the member states of ASEAN will play fiddle with Saxon imperialism, the region will take time to arise as an autonomous economic and political power on the global front.

In some other writings of mine, I already delved into the drug traders in the region, a coterie of operators who are directly tied up to British financier interests. British drug traders are in a modus Vivendi with the Chinese mafia circles, a balance of trade that shouldn’t be offset so suddenly. This trade balance ensures unhampered British dirty drug operations in the ASEAN that is a portion of its drug operations in the entire Asia from East to West of the continent.

The same drug operators were identified by economic intelligence teams as having direct tie ups or representatives of the Inter-Alpha group of companies, a group that practically controls banking & finance in Europe and America. (See reports of the Executive Intelligence Review, The Guardian, and related news for the matter.)

In some other articles, I already articulated the British & Americans’ creation of jihad groups across the region and Asia. So much studies were already done on the matter, so many exposes of the link between Al Qaida and the British Intelligence & CIA already published by other observers. With jihad terrorists roaming the region, America thus has the rationale to stretch its muscles to intervene militarily in affected countries, thus reinforcing intelligence gathering by Americans at grassroots levels in ASEAN.

Empires are definitely tough to crack and knock out. Hence, ASEAN’s encounters of many thorns in the neck from the generic Saxon empire will ensue for some more time before it will be able to establish its secure autonomy.

[Philippines, 14 November 2010]

 

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ASEAN LAND BRIDGES & RAILWAY SYSTEM

November 12, 2010

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Magandang umaga sa lahat! Good morning to everyone!

This analyst will continue on the ASEAN theme and will focus on road networks & railways for this piece. The region is now preparing the foundations for its conversion into an economic union by 2015, so it would be a productive engagement for citizens of the region to put forward their ideas about how to let the region grow and prosper, such as the idea about land bridges articulated here.

Each member country of ASEAN is now developing infrastructures at different paces, thus rendering each country with gaps in terms of road networks and railways. Such I gap, I believe, can be narrowed if the entire region will conceptualize, design, and begin laying down today the foundations of a region-wide road network.

The grand project can be dubbed as ‘land bridges program’ for the goal it can aspire to attain: that of linking all of the member countries into interfacing and interloping highways. There will be defining expressways in each of the countries that will then be integrated, expanded, and closed gap where certain spaces lack them, thus creating a seamless expressway serving as ‘land bridges’ across the entire region.

Running parallel or inter-linked with the road network would be a gargantuan railway system—of maglev technology—that will be part of the land bridging efforts. Transport hubs can be constructed in certain areas where the road facilities and railway can interface. Each member country can choose to link up its railways (running on electricity and diesel) with the regional maglev to comprise a yet another complex network with awesome potency for stimulating growth.

Such a grand project, which when interlinked further with the Mekong integrated project, will serve as multiplier effect in stimulating growth and development for all of the member countries without exception. The flow of peoples, goods and services, and investments across borders will thus increase by many folds, propelling further the generation of wealth for the union.

With the ASEAN central bank and ASEAN development bank running by 2015 and onwards, it becomes facile to fund the gargantuan land bridges project. The implementers will include private construction & development companies in the region as well as banks that can fund the project’s phases from the side of the private builder-constructors.

The project will enhance the synergy of trucking, train, and shipping down the ground and waters. Such effectively done, there will then be a reduction of moving people and goods by airplanes that can then have greater space for mobility.

The land bridges project can spur more ambitious civil engineering, so that civil works can move on to build tunnels beyond 2 kilometers below the ground. The same engineering efforts can then build tunnels across islands and help to ease out the burdens on ships as the link between island components of the road network.

The same project can also facilitate the inter-connection of the ASEAN to a new ‘silk route’ now rising across the Asian continent. The entry points will be India and China, which the union can cooperate with in building linking infrastructures. With such a possibility turned into reality, one can travel by road and trains from Luzon in the Philippines onwards to the Europe, permitting enjoyment of wonderful landscapes across many lands.

Movements of peoples, goods and services to and from the giant neighbors will also move up by many folds with the land bridge project linked up with the ‘silk route’. Ships and planes can be unburdened a bit by such a twist of development, and can then accommodate more goods & services for other continents and regions.

Regional institutions can be erected to design, manage, and regulate the conduct of construction as well as future traffic along the expressways and the railways flows. There should be transparency and efficiency in the bidding of contracts, so that early enough the governance components of the future political union can already be erected.

It is very likely that the project will be highly welcomed by the peoples of the region. The business sector, notably the constructors & developers, could hardly wait to dip their hands into it as soon as the call for participation by the ASEAN will be in place. It will surely leapfrog the region’s catching up with the developed world and with China, rendering it a potential global economic power in the foreseeable future.

[Philippines, 11 November 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

$100B MEKONG INTEGRATED PROJECT TO BOOST ASEAN POTENCY

November 8, 2010

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Magandang araw! Good day!

Around two (2) years ago, I articulated in one article the gigantic project that will rise in the Mekong River very soon. I was at that time already very supportive of the project, a support that I will re-echo at this moment.

For those unfamiliar with the project, a plan was hatched at the middle part of the decade for an integrated project along the Mekong River. Since the river begins upstream at the China side, China logically has to be involved in it. Finally, with blueprints for implementation on the go around 2007 yet, China committed to fund the projected cost of $100 Billion.

So huge a project, it will have couples of components into it. Power generation, irrigation, flood control, transportation, and tourism comprise the core sector components. A project of that size is four (4) times bigger than China’s own 3-Gorges Dam (it cost $23 at 2000 price index) and could be the largest that the world will ever have experienced once fully accomplished.

Benefiting approximately 300 million beneficiaries along its courses, the project is bound to spur development and generate incomes many folds larger than its total investments. If we use the econometric index of annual income yield that is 10X, then we can expect an annual income yield of $1 Trillion from out of the upstream and downstream industries induced by the project.

Since China is involved in it right now (as implementation is going on), then we expect China to receive the ROI (return on investments) in the widest expanse of benefits possible. That means, once fully operational, China will infuse more investments in the region to fully benefit from the project alone. The ROI will then be much greater than the original $100 accruing to China alone on an annual basis.

We can therefore hope for an excellent win/win situation for China and the ASEAN countries involved (Vietnam is the lead country executor). In the long run, we should hope that the same project would accrue to the growth & development of the entire ASEAN region that is bound to institute an economic union by 2015.

A win/win formula for the ASEAN itself is for it to use the Mekong project as exemplar to design and implement similar projects in other member countries, particularly in island southeast Asia. A particular office can be created in the ASEAN secretariat to oversee and help similar projects that can spin off in other parts of the region.

Since an ASEAN central bank is due for institution by 2015, let us expect that monetary instruments for financial packages can be had for gigantic infrastructure projects of the magnitude of the Mekong project. Probably an ASEAN Development Bank can also rise alongside the central bank, thus reinforcing the potency for launching gigantic projects that will be financed internally by the region itself.

If ever the ASEAN will wish to tap other countries for co-financing of the projects, it should be the emerging markets as top priority such as China, India, and Brazil, countries that will be more sympathetic to regional development. The option will help us veer away from the mal-intents of Northern banks that tied up developing countries in debt peonage and won at the expense of the developing countries.

As a matter of goodwill, ASEAN should better enter into the picture and look at other facets of the project that the future union can fund. The expansion phases of the Mekong project, for instance, can be taken over by the ASEAN itself, thus lessening dependence from external funders.

There are always pains to any large project, these being part of the costs of any undertaking. Nonetheless, the Mekong project should be supported and must go on until full completion. This will render it as an exemplar just right in time for the creation of the ASEAN economic union by 2015.

[Philippines, 05 November 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ASEAN TRADE LIBERALIZATION, PREPS FOR 2015 UNION

November 5, 2010

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

 

Will the ASEAN ever achieve economic integration that its member states have long dreamed of? Being an advocate of ASEAN unification, let me once more share thoughts about my humble region.

Binding rules of tariff reforms are now in the offing for implementation this year across the region, a proof that the unification efforts are going on despite internal barriers. The original ASEAN 5 –Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand—are the most prepared for execution of the rules, while Brunei can test-case them as it has the resources to cushion off negative repercussions if ever.

Agreed, the continental countries that are catching up in their development—Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos—need some breather space of five (5) more years to be considered as executors of the same rules. They can catch up, rest assured, so collective trust should permit their self-confidence to propel themselves to high growth.

Economic integration can induce enormous growth and fast-track development in the region altogether. Pushing through with the integration would yield a result that no more member country would be poor by as early as 2020. In other worlds, every country would move on to middle income country status, fast-tracked in its growth momentum by the economic union.

Integration would go beyond tariff reforms, for a reminder. An economic union would need central institutions to note: (a) central bank, (b) regional currency, and (c) related regulatory institutions. Governance institutions, such as a regional parliament and executive council, can undergo deeper study and preparatory formation right after 2015 (political union will take a longer time to traverse).

As to a regional currency, do note that Asian countries have already agreed on a resolution to create an Asian Monetary Fund and an Asian currency. The former speaker of the Philippines’ House of Representatives, Speaker De Venecia, was a prime mover in getting the Asian states to agree on the matter. With him out of power now in the legislature, some other key personalities in Asia should take on the cudgels for implementing the resolutions.

There are surely kinks to be resolved in matters pertaining to economic sector priorities. ASEAN countries tend to compete with one another in certain manufactures and services, so the resolutions could yield an elimination of competition and/or concurring cooperation among the competitors concerned.

ASEAN integration is coming at a time of an evolving paradigm of mixed land use. This paradigm, on a macro-level, could justify well the existence of all key manufacturing and services in a member country, thus undercutting complaints about competition across borders.

Population-wise, the ASEAN will be 700 million head-strong before 2015, which renders the region as a gigantic one. Imagine if just half of the population will be middle income in status, the class that can sustain consumer spending across time. That would be a 350-million head count serving as the economic powerhouse at the household level!

In terms of aggregated Gross National Product or GNP, the figure is nearing $3 Trillions for the region. The prospect of the ASEAN overtaking Japan is no longer remote, a possibility that can happen before 2020. Such a possibility, however, can best happen should economic integration take place as scheduled, an eventuality that will render more focused managing of economic policies and governance reforms that will fast-track growth & development.

Meantime, we can only wish for now that the trade reforms will push through, thus resulting to a semi-integrated economy. The semi-integration will produce pronto a context of ‘import-substitution’ on a regional scale, which I think is a long-overdue goal in the region.

From hereon, ASEAN has only over four (4) years to resolve the last kinks, study the integration directions inclusive of institutional designs. It will be 2011 in just two months’ time, with we hope will be another auspicious year for the humble region and its noblesse diplomats, experts, and leaders.

[Philippines, 03 November 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

RP’S FOREX RESERVES AT ALL-TIME HIGH

July 15, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang gabi! Good evening!

It’s almost bedtime as I write this piece. I am currently listening to world music as I keep my fingers busy on my laptop, even as I am in a celebratory or positive mood after a nice productive day.

Let me genuflect on the reported all-time high gross international reserves or GIR by our central bank here. The latest figure is $48.8 Billion, which is sufficient to purchase ten (10) months worth of imports or so. The GIR has been largely shored up by upscaling exports and continuing high inflows of overseas remittances.

Such a figure would correct my earlier claim of $45 Billion+ in my previous essays on RP development updates. The errata was unintended, as I do have some memory slips sometimes (my figure is applicable to early 2009 yet).

I do appreciate very well the level of GIR of my beloved Philippines. We have always been financially struggling due to our perennial low forex for over five (5) decades since after our 1946 independence (from the USA’s colonial yoke). GIR levels have since been moving up at the turn of the century and millennium, indicative of a relatively healthy macro-economy that can withstand new recessionary rounds to come.

The country’s GIR is in keeping with the east Asian region’s healthy levels of GIR as a whole. This is good news altogether. Contrast our situation with those of the western countries’ more so the USA whose GIR can buy less than a month worth of imports or so.

The only cautionary note that I can make about the matter is that our GIR is largely made up of US dollars. An unsolicited advice to our monetary authorities is for us to adopt a ‘basket of currencies’ policy for our GIR.

The over-concentration on the dollar will make our monetary situation burn in the short-run should the forecast decline of the dollar take place in the financial markets. East Asia should by now carve out contingency measures to deal with the massive dumping of dollars that can happen in case that financial volatilities will lead to the forecast event.

Just the same, let me toast a glass of wine to my compatriots, both overseas and domestic Pinoys, for the latest feat of GIR ascent.

[Philippines, 09 July 2010]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ONE ASEAN: GET READY!

May 20, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good evening! Magandang gabi!

The dark clouds of the electoral contests are now getting clearer in the Philippines. With our polls settled and our elected leaders about to begin their mandates, I’d now depart from election-related advocacies and move back to the international-global arenas.

I have written quite enormously about international political economy and subsidiary themes for over two (2) decades. Even my blogging has been consumed with peregrinations on the international arena. So let me go back to this arena, even as I now clarify that I am a strong advocate of One ASEAN.

As I’ve elucidated in my past writings (see 2007-08 articles), I perceive the ASEAN as the larger polity to which my own country will return in the future.

The Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the whole of island Southeast particularly, were largely creations of Western powers. They used to be part of the Majapahit Empire, the world’s wealthiest region before Western colonization fragmented it.

Being a strong believer in ASEAN unity, I am willing to shed off my hard-line Filipino nationalism and don the cloak of pan-ASEAN patriotism. Majapahit was the original nation to me and to those who resonate with the same worldview, and eager am I to see my country return to the Empire.

The Empire no longer bears that name today. Rather, it goes by the name of ASEAN, short for Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But it bears the same geo-political and geo-economic contours of the Empire before it fragmented.

A benevolent Empire it was, as it used the fiat of trade cooperation to get membership into the polity. That is, to be able to become a part of the Empire, concur trade with its nexus and prinzeps. This was a much different track from the typical military occupation used by other regional and world powers to expand their territorial confines.

If we reflect back on what our state players are doing here today, where they’re concurring agreements and treaties using the most civil means conceivable to get to a higher level of unity, the same means actually revives the consensus methods used by our peoples in antiquity. Today, no matter how diverse our political, economic, and cultural systems are, we are talking to each other here, which is reflective of a ‘dialogues of civilizations’ approach.

From state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society talks, let us move on to direct people-to-people talks in the region. People-to-people interactions precede people-to-people cooperations. I strongly contend that people-to-people cooperation should eventually be the base for state-to-state and civil society-to-civil society cooperation and no less.

State-to-state talks are quite slow in results, even if market players joined state actors to buttress the former stakeholders’ positions. In some areas of talks, such as those involving territories, snags are observed.

People-to-people interactions and cooperation will do much to accelerate state-to-state talks that get snagged for one reason or another. The same cooperation can also accelerate the building of a pan-ASEAN identity which should precede any writing of a general treaty that will unify the region at least economically.

People-to-people interactions have already been taking place in the region for almost 2000 years in fact. Western colonization may have diminished the scales of interactions for a long while, but that era of imperialism is much behind us now.

As states, market players, and civil society players are preparing for larger talks ahead, let us noble peoples of the region go ahead and expand the levels of talks to build greater mutual confidence, appreciation of each other’s cultures, and trust. Along the way, we have fellow Asians and global citizens who will support our efforts as true friends.

In any way we can, let us get to know each other better. Let’s set aside utilitarian gains (e.g. get to know Asean pals who can become network marketing partners) and interact based on a true call of our hearts, of our souls.

That way, we contribute to building our preparedness for the grand future coming. We just can’t be caught flat-footed, not knowing what’s going on in our larger backyard because we allowed state players to monopolize the talks.

Fellow ASEANians, let’s get ready!

[Writ – Philippines, 11 May 2012. E. Argonza is adept at international political economy. He was a graduate student of former ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Wilfrido Villacorta, PhD. He has published various articles on the subject, as well as a book on global trade regime.]

[See: IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com,

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com,

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com,

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com, ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com,

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com]

ASEAN INTEGRATION AND THE SUCCEEDING PRESIDENCY

March 22, 2010

Prof. Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Consultant-Development Center for Asia Africa Pacific

[13 December 2009]

BACKGROUND
Foreign policy should not be left unaddressed by any aspiring presidential candidate. The absence of foreign policy in the platform of a candidate could prove disastrous, as it indicates the parochial mind of an aspirant who is over-focused on domestic policy and governance.

Chief issue that could very well occupy the debates would be the ASEAN integration (circa 2015). The concordance of treaties on climate change and economic policies (whether to stress on fiscal stimulus or strengthening regulations) are now ongoing, at a time when Europe had consolidated through the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU-type regional integration will be a stronger agenda for emerging markets in the short-run and will lead to modifications of each one’s foreign policy architecture.

PAST FOREIGN POLICY FOCUS
Prior to 1986 (ascendancy of the revived democracy), there was largely a dis-focus in the foreign policy field. This was an area of policy drift, so to speak, as the country had no independent foreign policy to speak of. Our foreign policy agenda then were dictated by the USA (concerning alliances and enemies) and the World Bank-IMF group (concerning development and economics).

Breaking out of the foreign policy chain was the greatest challenge from 1986 onwards. The Aquino regime promised to pay all of our debt obligations, thus ensuring our encumbrances with the global financial cartels. On the other hand, the Senate abrogated the US-RP Military Bases Agreement in 1991, a noble act that served as impetus for configuring a new foreign policy architecture.

The Ramos and Erap regimes continued the same subservience to the IMF-World Bank group (representing global financiers) and U.S.-centered alliances, even as the Senate signed the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA within that two-regime period (1992-2001). The VFA was a setback to efforts by foreign policy quarters (diplomatic corps) to help us all procure a condition of independence in foreign policy, even as US troops continue to make presence in key areas of the archipelago.

The Afghan and Iraq wars was a watershed to our international alliances and efforts at achieving independence in this regard. Though committed to sending troops at the inception of the wars, the GMA regime later withdrew troops in both countries. Not only that, the same regime also re-carved the focus of foreign policy from one of gaining alliances and cooperation with other states, to one of advancing the welfare of overseas Filipinos. Our graduation from the IMF programs was also witnessed during this regime, which brought us nearer to independence in terms of international economics and development.

CHALLENGES TO THE NEXT PRESIDENCY
The efforts aimed at achieving independent foreign policy, as re-assertion of our national sovereignty, should be ensued by the succeeding presidency. The shift from external relations to overseeing the welfare of overseas Filipinos is a clear victory of the sector concerned (overseas Pinoys) and should be respected. A renewed assessment of our standing via the IMF (which imposed the disastrous austerity programs in the past) should be done, to ensure that we have indeed exited from its programs and impositions (via its ‘letters of intent’). The clamor to abrogate the VFA should be ensued while the momentum is there.

It is argued that the area where the next presidency can make a dent—foreign policy-wise—is the concurrence of a new treaty leading to the economic integration of the ASEAN at the least, and commitments to an eventual political integration at the maximum. The Philippines must re-assert its leadership in the region, a leadership that eroded due to the perceived rampant graft of government. Hopefully, a new presidency will revive our standing in the international community, and bring back our image as the leading nation in the region.

Among other things, the presidency should ensure the installation of regional institutions, to note: (a) regional executive body (with rotating chairmanship), and (b) regional central bank. The tacit concurrence of Asian countries to launch an Asian currency and an Asian Monetary Fund should also be concretized, with the ASEAN serving as the hub for finalizing the setting up of such institutions. The political parties in the region should also be encouraged to form coalitions and alliances, in preparation for a future ASEAN parliament. There also is the travel & tour agreement of non-visa passports for cross-border travels by citizens and legitimate stakeholders of the region.

Towards the tail end of the presidency, the launching of an ASEAN-wide taxation system, such as the VAT and Tobin Tax (for cross-border financial transactions), should be undertaken. Needless to say, the presidency should lead in galvanizing trade agreements and implementing them region-wide, along a win/win situation for the diverse stakeholders.

The presidency should not forget the forging of a regional identity, which should be buttressed by a massive campaign to develop regional loyalty by the citizens of the region. Along the way, people-to-people interactions, exchanges and cooperation should be encouraged.

RURAL POVERTY ALLEVIATION VIA WATER RESOURCES

August 24, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good day!

How do water resources alleviate rural poverty? What methods of intervention can be cited, and how did such intervention schemes impact on poverty alleviation? Could corruption have served as a facet of such intervention programs in developing economies?

Below is a study regarding approaches to rural poverty alleviation in Asia.

[11August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Approaches to rural poverty alleviation in developing Asia: role of water resources

Authors: Lipton,M.
Produced by: Poverty Research Unit, Sussex (2008)

Focusing on water resources and irrigation, this paper documents a talk by Michael Lipton exploring approaches to poverty alleviation in developing Asia. The talk discusses the findings of a recent paper ‘Pro-poor intervention strategies in irrigated agriculture in Asia: poverty in irrigated agriculture – realities, issues, and options with guidelines’. It looks at a number of topical issues such as irrigation in relation to access and global poverty, irrigation corruption, and sustainability.

The study discussed rests upon household surveys in 2001-2 in 26 major and medium canal irrigation systems (and adjoining rainfed areas) in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The surveys showed that in the rainfed areas, crop yields are typically half those in the adjoining irrigated areas, and that the landless in irrigated areas enjoy ‘much higher’ wage-rates and employment. Hence typically poverty incidence is 20-30 per cent higher in rainfed than adjoining canal-irrigated settings.

The speaker notes, however, that there are big differences, among and within systems, in irrigation’s efficiency, equity, and thus poverty impact. He asks, what determines the cost-effectiveness of irrigation as a sustainable remedy for poverty (a) in irrigated areas, (b) by spreading to new areas?

Key points include:

  1.  
    • whether management of water for farming is pro-poor depends on its sustainable impact on growth, stability and distribution of consumption, and of other indicators of well-being
    • the study gives strong evidence that more equal distribution of land and irrigation is not only pro-poor but also efficient
    • changes in incentives and institutions alone can bring rapid progress in solving most major problems of Asian canal irrigation, improving its economic efficiency and poverty impact
    • the main disincentive for aid to irrigation has been the growing doubt about side-effects: on health, on uncompensated land loss from new works (especially among indigenous populations), and on environmental sustainability
    • we need to look at the results of this project to examine the causes of collapse in irrigation investment, and about cost-effective, pro-poor ways to remedy that collapse

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=38021&em=310708&sub=enviro

FAIR TRADE AND THE NATION-STATE

April 28, 2008

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 23 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

In a recently written book by me titled Fair Trade and Food Security: Framework and Policy Architecture (Kaisampalad, 2004), I was able to gather clear evidences of the failures of free trade policies. Not only free trade but the whole policy regime of economic liberalization—that paved the way to globalization—had downgrading effects on our currency, agriculture, and industry here in my home country.

 

I argued right then for a policy reform in the direction of fair trade. The totality of policy change should be the re-crafting of the entire policy architecture, which if commensurately followed can become fitful guides for foreign policy and diplomacy.

 

In the light of the massive acceptance of liberalization policy frameworks in the 80s and 90s, I gave their advocates a chance to prove the potency of free trade and laissez faire in general. In the long run, free trade is unsustainable, and can only be perpetuated, as shown by the experiences of the previous centuries, by imperialism.

 

Autarchy, which was experimented in the Hapsburg empire, is more of a hermitage option that can work only if, as the Hapsburg had fittingly shown, the domain for intra-trade exchange and distribution is large enough. The option, even for nationalist economics, is for the conduct of overseas trade. But whether his has to be a free trade option is contentious.

 

The British Empire, which calls itself by the euphemy British Commonwealth of Nations, is still alive today. That empire was built precisely because it is the only way by which Great Britain, or England, can sustain its trading edge through the power of the ‘stick’. But this empire, the last among the ancien regime formations, is now crumbling, and cannot hold water for long as the member nations continue to assert their sovereignty.

 

Globalization based on free trade had already crumbled, as we can see. Unless there is another perception out there. It had failed. What I am arguing for now is that globalization can succeed only if it takes into consideration the interests of nations and marginal sectors within them rather than be based on the interests of a chosen few of financier oligarchs and their TNCs.

 

The contention from the article New Nationalism is shown en toto below.

 

Let ‘unbridled free trade’ give way to ‘fair trade’.

 

In the international trade scene, the President had declared it emphatically: “no to unbridled free trade!” Fair trade should be the game in trade, not free trade. This does not mean a full return to protectionism, which proved counterproductive in the past. Protectionism had only served rent-seekers, who did not engage in full-scale S&T innovations that could have propelled us to advance in product development, achieving world-class standards in many of our articles of industry & trade quite early. Returning to a regime of protectionism is surely out of the question.

 

Permit articles of imports to come in, employ this strategy to meet ‘commodity security’ and keep prices at competitive rates, while minimizing the possibility of shocks. This should also challenge domestic market players to become more competitive, precisely by engaging in dynamic research & development or R&D, resulting to higher-level product innovations (intended for the domestic market). Meanwhile, continue to institute a regime of ‘safety nets’ and strengthen those that have already been erected. However, where ‘infantile enterprises’ are barely out of the take-off stage, e.g. petrochemicals and upstream steel, provide certain tariff protection, but set limits up to that point when dynamic R & D have made production more cost-efficient, permitting thereafter competitiveness in both the domestic and global market. The latest move of government to provide the greatest incentives on upstream steel, for instance, is a right move, as it will entice market forces to install our long-delayed integrated steelworks.