Posted tagged ‘Asia’

POWER SHIFT FROM WEST TO EAST NOW COMPLETE

January 2, 2014

POWER SHIFT FROM WEST TO EAST NOW COMPLETE

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Gracious Day to you fellow global citizens!

 

“Young Man, Go East!” was John Naisbitt’s challenging call unto the youth of the west who are eager to search for opportunities in life. In the late 90s yet, he released his social forecast book Megatrends Asia, which sums up macro- trends happening in Asia that all point out to the compass of economic and cultural growth of the 21st millennium: East will be center of global development.

 

Futurologists or social forecasters from the West, beginning with Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee a century ago, forewarned the West of the eventual decline in the future. Toynbee used a cyclical wave model to show that a civilization or ‘high culture’ lasts only for 2,000 years, after which it will decline rapidly.

 

Indo-European ‘high cultures’ were nearing the end of that 2000-year cycle in the early 1900s, which prompted futurologists to write daring forecasts of what’s in store for the West in general. Though accordingly the West will sustain the momentum towards high levels of technological development, the overall civilizational maturity has been reached as was nearing the terminal end phase.

 

The American sociologist Daniel Bell followed up on the social forecasts in his brilliant discourses on the Post-Industrial society. Writing in the 1950s yet, upon seeing some Asian economies jettison their amazing industrial growth, predicted that the end of the Western prominence, both techno-economically and culturally, is already at hand. He daringly registered that the year 2013 will be the precise year of the civilizational shift.

 

It took yet younger social forecasters, notably Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt, to follow up on the emerging global developments and observe the amazing rise of Asian ‘dragons’ and ‘tigers’. By the 1990s, both thinkers held the convergent opinion that Asia will be the trend-setter techno-economically and culturally in the forthcoming 21st century.

  

To complete the picture of global rise to prominence of Asia, Immanuel Wallerstein, then president of the American Sociological Society, explained in the late 1990s that civilization was actually moving towards the East by the 16th century yet. Tragically, the Western powers intervened to undercut that process, colonized the East via imperious methods of encumbrances, and ended what could have been a gargantuan awesome experience of East-led global development.

 

As Western imperialism, colonialism, and hegemonism considerably declined by the latter part of the 20th century, so was the momentum of techno-economic, political, and cultural development propelled in the East.  By the latter years of the 1990s, there was no more doubting the predictions made by social forecasters that indeed the compass of civilization will soon move to the East.

 

Upon the catastrophic entrapment of the economies of Europe, USA, and Japan in short recessions that congealed into a Great Recession in 2007, the momentum was finally lost on the West. Japan was only partly saved due to its Asian location and trade positioning strategies, though its economy was flat since 1994 yet. By early 2008, Western global observers released their consensual evaluation that Asia already overtook the West in cutting edge technologies by the end of 2007.

 

By global observers I mean those coming from international magazines, thinktanks, and academe. The economic analysts of the Time Magazine, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Guardian, and Newsweek, for instance, came up with that very upbeat observation, as Asia was growing while the West was stagnating technologically and crashing down economically.

 

It’s now 2014 and many developments that boggle the mind did happen since 2007. As far as wealth production from the ‘physical economy’ is concerned, Asia is leading and showing the way towards keeping the global economy afloat. The West, on the other hand, is mired in ‘bubble economy’ or ‘virtual economy’ cul de sac, which promises only short-cycle growths that can burst again in the near future.

 

The power shift is now complete, though the shift doesn’t mean that the East will supplant the West in global importance. The Eastern mind thinks in terms of inclusive development, in contradistinction from the Western mind that is binary/dichotomous, zero-sum in practice, and pursues development at the expense of the small nations of East and South.

 

Western peoples better accustom themselves to the emerging reality and cease to be bellicose and hostile towards the Eastern peoples whom they pejoratively condescended upon for centuries as “monkeys” or “halfway between man and ape.” Civilization’s root word is ‘civility’, and that means if some nations become prosperous, so must all nations be some day, all marching together in a global ethos of goodwill and cooperation rather than destroying the weaker ones.

 

[Manila, 01 January, 2014]

MANILA: ASIA’S FASHION & SHOPPING CAPITAL, GRADUATES TO DESIGN CAPITAL

November 13, 2013

MANILA: ASIA’S FASHION & SHOPPING CAPITAL, GRADUATES TO DESIGN CAPITAL

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Good Day to you fellow global citizens!

In 2011, I published an article titled “FILIPINO FASHION DESIGNERS IN HOLLYWOOD: SHOWCASING MANILA AS ASIA’S FASHION CAPITAL” (See: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com/2011/02/filipino-fashion-designers-in-hollywood.html). In that article, I highlighted the maturity of Filipino fashion design, so much that it had reached a level of continental and global acclaim.

Manila has been the fashion and shopping capital of Asia for over a decade already. It once enjoyed that status alongside another ASEAN city, Bangkok. Unfortunately, or tragically, a huge flood beset Bangkok fairly recently, which caused the pull out by many global industrial investors based in it. Bangkok’s own fashion designers left on a diaspora, which took Bangkok off the list of very important cities in the global fashion circuits.

Manila henceforth enjoys a celebrity status for being the sole Fashion Capital. In the latter part of the 20th century, that envious status belonged to both Tokyo and Hongkong. But as the Bob Dylan poetic line “the times they are a-changing” hauntingly reminds the big players in all fields, so did Manila move up to overtake both Hongkong and Tokyo in the fashion field.

As the title suggests, Manila is also the Shopping Capital of all Asia. That means from East to West, North to South of the continent, Manila is THE SHOPPING CAPITAL. Shopping malls in Manila have the best mall architectures in the whole continent and count among the world’s best, e.g. Gateway Mall’s winning the World’s 11 Best Mall Architectures couples of years ago, which enhanced the power of Filipino fashion and Manila’s shopping magnetism.

That title of Shopping Capital used to belong to both Hongkong and Tokyo as well. So you could just imagine the slide of both cities to 2nd fiddle as Manila and Bangkok zoomed up meteorically to take that crown, though sadly Bangkok did slide down (God forbids that it will lost the crown that it enjoyed for a short 10 years).

 

Today, there’s another milestone event that is shaping up: Manila’s graduation to a Design Center for the whole of the ASEAN at least. That’s just a minimalist statement coming from the industrialists of ASEAN. Come to think of it, a country or city that had reached Fashion & Shopping Capital continent-wide will likewise get the crown of Design Capital for the whole of Asia.

Filipino consumers might be wondering where are all those Filipino fashion designs being bandied by the tri-media and cyberspace. Well, fellow Filipinos, you only see fashion via the RTWs viewed by your focals every week in the shopping malls, and RTW fashion constitutes only 16% or 1/7th of the totality of work by fashion designers in the Philippines.

84% of all Filipino fashion designs are generated for the couture business. Many fashion designers in fact do sub-contracting for some bigger fashion design firms whose very own end-users are individual couture fashionistas and corporate retail outlets. With all the great fashion designs going around in Manila and Cebu, all that a Filipino needs to do is get ideas from them, design their own clothes, and look for good cutter and ‘sastre’ (tailor or dress maker) in the wet market to finish the product.

By being a Design Capital means that Filipino fashion designers will  train fashion designers from across Asia and the oceans and also welcome those emerging designers from other countries to do sub-contracting for the big players in Manila. Hopefully fashion institutes will catch up for installation and training of the young designers across the world.

In my own honest opinion, the top universities in Manila—University of the Philippines, Ateneo De Manila University, De La Salle University—should launch fashion departments within their own backyards. It is now time to do so. Pitoy Moreno, top fashion designer, already won his National Artist award, so that recognition should translate into the university’s adopting of the fashion as a line of the arts.

Let’s all expect exciting developments to come regarding the fashion world and it’s partner institution the mall retail business. If generating great fashion sustains the enticement of retailers to ever build majestic mall architectures, then shall there’s joy and fun indeed in visiting Manila and the Philippines by enthused tourists both domestically and internationally.

[Manila, 08 November 2013]

PHILIPPINE ECONOMY TOPS ASIAN GROWTH, FIREWALL AMIDST POLITICAL TURMOILS

November 2, 2013

PHILIPPINE ECONOMY TOPS ASIAN GROWTH, FIREWALL AMIDST POLITICAL TURMOILS

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

For this particular note, I will go back to my reflections on the Philippine economy, while I look forward to expand to ASEAN concerns as ASEAN integration nears by 2015. Philippine economic growth tops ASEAN, which makes it the leading ‘tiger’ of the region today.

 

For a recall, Philippine economic performance showed past 7% growth for the last four (4) quarters already. As of middle of 2013, PH growth was at par with China’s which seems to show some sputtering after past two (2) decades of double digit growth. China’s very own growth pattern may decline even more in the years ahead, thus permitting the PH economy to be on top if it shows a sustained trend over the next couples of years.

 

Economic performance can only be as good as the economy players themselves. While economic policy environment, which is the terrain of politicians and bureaucrats, plays a very vital role in stimulating economic development, in the last instance it is the performance of economic players that counts most.

 

As a matter of fact, it is on the side of the state—with poor expenditures for infrastructures during the first two years of the Aquino administration—that produced a lackluster economic growth. Bad governance stalks the Philippine state, which ends in an overall Weak State, though governance reforms are in order.

 

Incidentally, across the decades, the Philippine economy built a ‘firewall’ that protects it from political caldrons here and abroad. Along with other Asian economies, the Philippines also built a ‘firewall’ against turmoils in the global economy that are caused by the economic weaknesses of the North (Japan, USA, EU).

 

As economists put it, the Philippine economy just entered a ‘virtual cycle’ of growth, thus ending a long arduous history of ‘boom & bust’ cycle. Much of the growth comes largely from the domestic demand itself, showing the great purchasing power of domestic institutions, households, and individuals when combined. Income from international trade plays only a secondary role in the country, which enables it to outsmart the vagaries of the unstable global economy.

 

In the past decades, so much of ‘organization re-engineering’ and corporate governance were infused into the Philippine business structures and processes. Business culture was also properly addressed by internal stakeholders, chambers of commerce, and management professional societies. The result, of course, is better adaptive capacity thru better competitiveness and higher productivity.

 

The trend in Philippine manufacturing had so far shown a consistent generation of high value-added by its labor force, followed by services. The two sectors have shown dynamism so far, thus making them the big drivers of the domestic economy. Agriculture is very sluggish in this respect, which challenges food producers to make up and move up their labor force’s value-added capacities.

 

Note also the trend of consistently high Net Factor Income from Abroad, which will continue to grow in absolute terms over the next decades. Remittances from overseas Filipinos (workers/professionals) continue to grow, contributing past $20 billions annually to the national income. Furthermore, overseas Filipino investments are growing by the year, in highly diversified concerns, so let’s anticipate the repatriations of profits from such business concerns to surpass remittances from overseas workers in the foreseeable future.

 

So far the credit standing of the Philippine economy has been moving up. Fitch’s, Moody’s, Standard & Poors’, and other institutions have been optimistic about the Philippine economic performance and good governance measures, which made them shore up the credit ratings nearer and nearer to the triple A mark.

 

The Philippine economy is still a Middle Income economy as of this moment. It if grows consistently at 7% per annum for succeeding years, then it can double its size in every 6 years. By 2025, PH economy will be 4 times its present size. At the end of that year, PH economy will have entered a ‘mature’ developed economy, and joins the club of 1st world nations.

 

[Manila, 28 October 2013]

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

January 26, 2012

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

We have a gladdening news about the Himalayan region regarding the potentialities of renewable energy or RE as impetus for economic prosperity. Eight (8) countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region particularly manifest high potentials for RE-driven growth.

 

The question that is now rising from the emerging green tech boom there is: who owns the said RE boom altogether? Who is in control, who pays up the greatest for the boom, what yields will there be for the peoples of the 8-country region?

 

Without such a control over the boom’s compass and yields, there is always the danger of financial predators using the RE boom to  extract the greatest profits out of their greedy pursuits, which will cancel out the people-prospering side of development.

 

Below is a report on the subject from the SciDev.net.

 

[Philippines, 27 December 2011]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/himalayan-countries-urged-to-own-their-green-tech-boom.html

Himalayan countries urged to own their green tech boom

Smriti Mallapaty

21 November 2011

[KATHMANDU] Himalayan countries should support and invest in green technologies if such initiatives are to succeed and bring benefits to the economy in the long term, a meeting has heard.

Eight countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region are making progress in development and uptake of renewable energy technologies, which can maintain sustainable economic growth for mountain communities, a workshop in Kathmandu heard earlier this month (2–4 November).

Further investments could provide environmental, social and economic benefits to mountain communities, experts told the meeting, which was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

But it is uncertain whether poorer countries could sustain investment in green technology development without external support and this dependency on donor funding could hamper the progress made so far, experts warned.

Suresh Kumar Dhungel, senior scientist at Nepal National Academy of Science and Technology, told SciDev.Net: “The sad part is that Nepal’s efforts are not solely ours, it is all guided by funds from international donor agencies. Policymakers need to realise the importance of a green society.”

Golam Rasul, head of ICIMOD’s economic analysis division said: “The initial cost of renewable energy is high compared with fossil fuel based energy. The technology we are using now is not very cost-effective. Technologically advanced countries should support research in this field.”

Rasul said regional cooperation and transboundary energy trade could offer a way out.

“Bhutan and Nepal have huge hydropower potential but lack technical capacity and large markets, whereas India and Bangladesh are power hungry,” Rasul said.

Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, deputy director-general of the National Environmental Protection Agency, of the Afghanistan, told SciDev.Net climatic environments may need different green technologies, appropriate for local circumstances.

Prem Pokhrel, climate and energy programme officer at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Nepal, said that almost a million households in Nepal are benefiting from micro-hydro power plants, improved cooking stoves, domestic biogas plants, and solar home systems. This saves an estimated 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Pokhrel described an ‘energy ladder’ of rising income, where households transition from wood and animal-based fuels to electricity and other clean energy, as they get richer. This also translated into better health for women and children, said Pokhrel. He added that uptake of clean energy can also help generate better income.

ICIMOD organised a conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20 in September, which produced a concept paper ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development’.

One of the key recommendations to the national governments from the concept paper was to “adopt alternative forms of energy such as hydropower, wind power, biogas, and solar energy to reduce negative impacts from the use of fossil fuels and fuel wood”.

Link to ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development: a concept paper for Rio+20 and beyond’

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UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES IS NO. 34 IN WORLD’S BEST UNIVERSITIES IN ENGLISH

July 12, 2011

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES IS NO. 34 IN WORLD’S BEST UNIVERSITIES IN ENGLISH

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day from the Pearl of the Orient!

The University of the Philippines or UP, my country’s national university and among the esteemed world universities in ASEAN, recently landed at No. 34 rank among the world’s top universities in terms of English instruction, besting many world universities in the West and Asia. This is a gladdening news not only for my country and ASEAN, the news likewise glows my heart to euphoria as I am a sanguine alumnus of the noble UP.

Please note that UP’s English instruction goes further than instruction, as many of its professors and alumni dominate the prestigious literary and scientific writing awards in the country, such as the Palanca award. The UP is also home to professors who are holders of the very prestigious National Artist, National Scientist, and Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

UP’s professors, in other words, are active creators of ideas and ‘best practices’, a legacy that they have passed on to their students. Since the late 1990s, 1/7 of all the country’s patents and copyrights in any given year are those registered by professors, researchers and experts of the University of the Philippines.

Such a high level of instruction, creation, and practices by UP’s professors, who stand out in articulation and philosophic discourse, is a legacy of the American professors of colonial-era history. UP’s first professors were largely Ivy League alumni, seconded by alumni of top state universities in the USA. They were among the first professional volunteers to render immense service of enabling Filipino minds to meet the challenges of the modern world.

UP was envisioned, since the time of the Filipino revolutionary government of Aguinaldo yet, as the premier university that will train tomorrow’s leaders for the country. The American educators took off from that vision, as they were the ones mandated to chart the destiny of the university and provide it with the foundational professors.

The same professors brought along with them AngloSaxon philosophy, culture, and language. The AngloSaxon tradition had stayed with UP ever since, which begins with the perfection of English articulation (oral & writ), mastery of AngloSaxon philosophy (empiricism, positivism, pragmatism, analytic philosophy), critical thinking, debating method & style, and conversational savvy for high culture (legacy of Victorian culture).

UP’s language articulation belongs to the ‘school of Elegance’. The same American professors ensured that discursive elegance will endure, and they succeeded in their noble tasks. Till these days, amid the greater stress for social responsibility in UP, a trend that began in the ‘60s yet with the rise of campus radicalism, which could have shifted articulation to the ‘schoof of Simplicity’, elegance had persisted.

Having been in UP for a long time as student (bachelor’s to graduate school) and faculty (social sciences), I can share endless testimonials to the discursive rigor that one has to pass through in my alma mater. One has to learn elegance first of all and employ the same elegance in practice, with preponderance for your profession’s argot while in the company of professional peers.

Simplicity in articulation comes as you face a broader audience among social clientele, such as the marginal sectors and layman. Sure, learn to talk and write with simplicity as you’d face broader audiences and readers after leaving the UP’s august halls. But first of all, learn to be elegant.

And don’t forget, discourse with depth, be as recondite as the philosophical thinkers that shaped your mental bank and professors that mentored you. Perfect your English, be elegant, be philosophically recondite, and you’ll end up being well cultured and highly-bred.

Passing through UP’s language training is akin to entering an eye of a needle. It is truly tough, yet very psychically rewarding. At least the former dictator Marcos, whose English and philosophical sophistication are as polished as Berkeley’s or Hume’s, won’t scoff at your simpleton-sounding language if you happen to be an activist who wished imperialism and tyranny away, thus earning you astronomical insults from UP’s alumni stalwarts.

By the way, the Ateneo De Manila University, another world university and the country’s best private university, landed at No. 35. De La Salle University, an international-class institution, landed at No. 51. UP, Ateneo and De La Salle form a consortium, and they comprise a triune of universities whose alumni are a class in their own, class sui generis.

Big kudos to the UP, Ateneo, and La Salle for the triumph in the AngloSaxon language!

[Philippines, 12 July 2011]
I

PH AN EMERGING POWER PER UK PRONOUNCEMENT

June 22, 2011

PH AN EMERGING POWER PER UK PRONOUNCEMENT

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you fellow global citizens!

Just recently, a team from the British diplomatic corps made an unusual pronouncement in Manila: that Philippines is an emerging power. For a world power that once conquered Manila during the world war between the empires of Spain and Britain, the UK remark is truly unusual.

Cordially and tactfully delivered, the remark hopefully could open up more floodgates for greater investments between the UK and PH. UK better bring in more investors—bringing in more FDIs (direct foreign investments) than hot money capital—and show sincerity in relating to its partner in the ASEAN.

Known for profligate engagements in derivatives operations and related speculations, UK has been the center of operations of known predatory financiers led by the Rothschilds and fronted by George Soros, a fact that has been causing chagrin on and ambivalence towards the British by developing countries. UK diplomacy better change that image and change it fast.

On the other hand, it is time for Filipino investors to move into London and Northern Ireland with greater capital intensity. Sure, there are a lot of Filipinos in the UK, with circa 200,000 located there, albeit largely for domestic work. It is time that the population composition of Pinoys in UK better change, with greater numbers of professionals, investors, and aid volunteers (to developing countries) deciding to seek domicile there.

As to the numbers of British citizens located in PH, the number is 10,000. Composed largely of retired seniors, the number is also reinforced by diplomatic professionals, business executives, philanthropic aid workers, artists and students. The composition may need to change soon, as PH is an open society and its multi-cultural environ is a plus factor for British and other Europeans to seek domicile here.

Let’s go back to the contention of emerging power. This contention was culled from the observation of PH as an emerging market, which together with other emerging markets will equalize the OECD powers by 2025 as per World Bank forecast. Emerging markets have large populations and significant middle income consumers (earning $6,000-$30,000 per annum).

PH has around 19 Millions out of its 94 Millions of warm bodies as comprising that global middle class. Small for now and seemingly stagnant, the 19 Millions can be made to grow, and the number is significant vis a vis the total population. All over the ASEAN, a total of past 100 Millions of people are in that category today.

The USA has 160 Millions in the global middle income category. It is no wonder that the World Bank made the forecast, knowing the sustained growth that the emerging markets have been showing. As the USA stagnates along the way, ASEAN will surpass it in terms of doubling its middle income to past the 200 Millions warm bodies before 2025 yet.

With Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam showing the way to what emerging markets are in the ASEAN, it is no wonder that traditional world powers are in a hurry to re-chart the directions of their foreign policies, aimed at creating long-term modus vivendi with the emerging markets.

PH political clout will most likely increase along the way as its economic clout also strengthens. The domestic stakeholders better take note of the new perceptions of OECD powers such as UK on PH, and widen that latitudes for rapid growth and wealth redistribution to accelerate the creation of a middle class past the 50 Million mark soon.

This time around, PH shouldn’t miss out on the emerging global opportunities and perceptions of multi-polarity. Stakeholders should put up or shut up in meeting the gargantuan challenges at hand.

[Philippines, 02 June 2011]
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PH BALANCE OF PAYMENTS SURPLUS DOING GOOD!

June 3, 2011

PH BALANCE OF PAYMENTS SURPLUS DOING GOOD!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang araw! Good day!

Another great news from Asia’s emerging market Philippines has been ringing across economic sectors of late. This pertains to the end of April report of a net BOP (balance of payments) surplus of over $1 Billion.

The situation of a BOP surplus has been consistent since the begging of 2011 yet, thus rendering total BOP surplus at over $4 Billions. Add this BOP surplus to the strong peso, high foreign exchange reserves of $67.8 Billions, positive growth of over 5% for the 1st quarter, manageable debt burden (good fiscal health), and one can see a relatively good performing economy as far as macro-indicators are concerned.

The BOP surplus has been largely accounted for by the continuous inflows of foreign remittances by overseas Filipinos and the portfolio capital inflows. This hasn’t translated yet into transforming PH credit standing to A+ high credit grade, but so far so good. The credit standing has already been elevated to a notch in fact.

BOP measures the balance between inflows and outflows of capital, currency, and trade receipts. In the past, BOP deficits have been used by creditor institutions notably the IMF to bamboozle the country into submitting to harsh conditionalities. Now that BOP and other indices have been doing appreciably, the reason for creditors and investors to be stingy or cruel on the country has been reduced.

Since the country has been registering BOP surpluses for some time now, there is no more reason to be lackadaisical about reducing poverty and increasing the numbers of middle income earners. The graduation of around 32% poorer families in the CDE classes to middle income status (U.S. $5,000-$30,000 per annum) will make the country into a true economic powerhouse as an emerging market.

Today, merely 19% of our families fall within the middle income yardstick, and it had stagnated there for years now. Adding 32% to 19% yields 51% of total families at middle income, a status that Brazil attained during the noble Lula’s presidency yet. How much can the private sector can do what it can towards that end, using the gains of BOP surpluses and others, is the big challenge facing the market stakeholders.

[Philippines, 21 May 2011]
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