Posted tagged ‘regional integration’

ASEAN AEROSPACE PROGRAM

November 10, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang araw! Good day, most especially to fellow Southeast Asians!

For this piece I’m going to focus on the theme of an ASEAN-wide rocket industry-based aerospace program. ASEAN is about to integrate economically by 2015, so may the member states put in the list of agenda for action the launching of a regional aerospace program.

As the region’s member countries grow at immense rates, the middle class of the region will likewise grow that will serve as its sustaining consumption base. A large middle class will mean a higher demand for telecommunications infrastructures that will, in the main, depend on satellite and related facilities.

So, instead of each member country trying to outdo each other by launching their respective rocket industry-based aerospace programs, the countries better sit down together within the aegis of an ASEAN economic union, concur a binding agreement regarding the launching of an ASEAN aerospace program, and fund the entire program internally from ASEAN resources.

With an ASEAN central bank in place by 2015, it wouldn’t be so difficult to generate funds internally for all sorts of grand projects from infrastructures to aerospace. An ASEAN development bank would then be securitized by the central bank and allocate funds for the aerospace program.

Malaysia today is in the stage of research & development for a rocket industry and has begun training & development for its technical experts. It may be prudent for the ASEAN to assign to Malaysia a lead role in orchestrating the ASEAN aerospace, with the quid pro quo of compensating Malaysia for lending its expertise and certain aspects of the backward linkages for the future industry.

The aerospace program would largely be used to launch satellites and only secondarily for space research & development. The space R & D can come later, maybe at a time when the ASEAN will be prepared for political unification in the long run.

With a satellite industry in place, the ASEAN can then compete with other market stakeholders (countries & regions with satellite industry) to supply and launch the satellites of other developing countries. Project costs can be cut down at the satellite production phase, thus bringing down prices of ready-to-launch satellites and ensuring patronage by many developing countries.

All of the essential components—at the backward linkages—of satellite production are now present as running industries in the region. From metallurgy to computer software & hardware, name it and the region has it. Hence the viability of satellite industry is very high enough.

It is in the domain of rockets that the ASEAN would need to co-partner with other countries at the production phase. It can be an option for ASEAN to co-partner with Russia that can supply the rockets that will launch ASEAN’s satellites. China and India are other options also for supplying the rockets.

However, in the long run the economic union should work out to establish a strong rocket industry for itself. The rocket industry can spin off into a more comprehensive program later, one that can be extended to launching R & D in other planets and their respective moons, space tourism, and sending missions beyond the solar system.

Rocket technology can also be modified so as to integrate it into the mining industry, so that in the long term ASEAN can mine for metals in other celestial bodies. Environmental standards are getting to be stricter by the year, standards that can constrain the extraction of rare & precious metals regionally, so the alternative in such a context would be to mine for the metals in other celestial bodies.

The aerospace program is one developmental area that will prove the potency of a regional approach to launching it contrasted to country-initiated approach. Given the gargantuan level of funding that a rocket industry cum satellite industry will entail, funding that a member country will be hard put to supply, then regionalize the program altogether to circumvent country constraints.

[Philippines, 07 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]

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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]

EUROZONE’S BURNING, CONVENE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CONFERENCE!

May 28, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang gabi! Good evening!

Eurozone is burning. Before the flames would reach infernal levels, the contagion effects thereof burning the other regions of the globe, a global financial conference should be convened most urgently.

The purpose of the conference would be to configure a new financial architecture. Such a policy architecture would then as guidepost to all nation-states and regional alliances (EU, trade regimes such as ASEAN, NAFTA, Mercosur, others) to follow.

In the absence of such a policy architecture, palliatives can only emerge from the board rooms of incompetent bureaucrats. Among such palliatives now arising are: (a) Merkel’s solution to regulate hedge funds operations (financial derivatives); and, (b) Obama & US Congress’ regulations of speculative excesses of its stock markets.

Such palliatives are merely piecemeal solutions, even as they are too partial and parochial. They weren’t derived from a comprehensive paradigm that could have generated clear explications of the financial/economic crises of our times. They are reactive rather than responsive. Absent a policy architecture, and the piecemeal solutions will only have short-run impacts, and will be folded up when “things will get better.”

The top agenda that must be taken up are:

  1. Criminalize speculative excesses. Speculation has fueled bubble economies worldwide. Financial predators have emerged from the oligarchic quarters up North, who have played havoc on the equities and currency markets. If it will turn out beneficial to ban and criminalize hedge funds operations later, then so be it. Such vulture funds have no place in a civilized world where we witness poverty and hunger rising.
  2. Tobin Tax cross-border transactions. In no way should unbridled cross-border transactions be allowed without taxation. A minimum Tobin Tax of 0.75% on all such transactions should be imposed. Higher tax on derivatives and commodities futures of 1.5% can also be agreed upon. The accruing tax revenues will then be turned over to the United Nations and attached agencies for their operations & maintenance budgets.
  3. Condone fraudulent/usurious debts. Debts that are fraudulent or too usurious, notably those lent to developing economies, should be completely condoned. The same economies can then have a fresh start and breathing space for anti-poverty, jobs, and related social development efforts.
  4. Abolish the Jurassic Fund (IMF). It is now time to re-assess the International Monetary Fund, leading to its abolition. It does not represent the interest of the member-states, but is rather a middle man peddling the interests of global financial cartels. Its top executives come from the ranks of the same cartels. It had imposed austerity measures on many developing economies, causing more hunger, poverty, low wages, and unemployment. This Jurassic Fund (to borrow from Walden Bello) must go!
  5. Identify financial ‘White knights’. Authentic financial ‘white knights’ from among the emerging markets should be properly identified and urged to expand their operations. These financial groups can offer long-term financing at very low interest rates. The end-users should be authentic market players that are engaged in the productive sectors, which will end the practice of ‘white knight’ financing (such as the Yen Initiative Package) that lent money to financial cartels which in turn re-lent them at higher interest rates.
  6. Ban banks from speculative pursuits. Commercial banks and development banks, or all banks for that matter, must be banned from engaging in speculative pursuits such as hedge funds, commodities, and ‘hot money’ operations. Banks must service the productive sectors and must infuse moral philosophy in their organizational cultures.
  7. Abolish stock markets. Stock markets have never been instruments for wealth redistribution. They are filled with dirty operators. It’s now time to abolish them. In their stead should be instituted a direct link between investors and market players in need of fresh money, thus abolishing the stock trader as ‘middleman’. Reforming the stock markets isn’t the answer, but rather their abolition.
  8. Institute gold reserve standard. The gold standard of the past was abolished, in order that gold be hoarded by a few cartels up North. It is time to institute a new form of gold standard serving as stabilizer and securitization instrument for currencies. The standard will eventually lead to a re-institution of currency control policy which redounds to a more stable global economy in the long run.

Let it be reiterated, that should the present situation be allowed to go on, with piecemeal parochial solutions carved out at best, a bigger global catastrophe will be in the offing. A more colossal nightmare is now unfolding, which we hope the Northern countries’ incompetent bureaucrats can see at all.

[22 May 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]