February 10, 2012
Philippines Marginalized Without
University of the Philippines
(UP) Economics Professor Winnie Monsod
the Philippines to engage in free trade, saying that refusal to
be part of the global market will result in the Philippines being
left behind or becoming marginalized.
At the forum ‘New Age FTAs: Is the Philippines
Mature Enough?’ on 10 February 2012 at Dusit Hotel,
Makati City, experts on trade negotiations and competition policy
discussed the prospects and challenges of the Philippines entering
into free trade agreements (FTAs).
Korean Ambassador Hye Min Lee, who was involved
in the South Korea-European Union FTA negotiations, is satisfied
with the benefits resulting from free trade. “It did not
only bring increased foreign investment but also enhanced transparency
and predictability that allowed domestic commerce to flourish,”
EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux
echoed this and stressed
that “FTAs must be inclusive so that everyone can share the
benefits. It is not just about opening markets, but it is about
helping people.” He also gave a strong signal on the prospect
for a Philippine-EU FTA. “We are aware that the Philippines
is interested in an FTA with the EU. Let me re-emphasize that the
EU is willing to engage in the discussion when the Philippines is
Monsod was positive that the building blocks to FTAs overpower
the roadblocks. John Simon, Chief of International
Affairs of the Bureau of Customs assured the audience that the
agency is now striving to rid itself of corruption and facilitate
global trade in the standard of integrity and honesty. “Customs
is in a unique position within the national government and in
the international trade community. Good governance is the key
towards the transformation of a new Philippine Customs,”
The other resource persons at the forum were Atty. Lynn
of TA Trade Advisory Services; Jessica
, Chief of Staff of House Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada;
De La Salle University Professor Dr. Alfredo Robles
Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) President Calixto
; and Dr. Erlinda Medalla
the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). They agreed
that good governance would help maximize the benefits from FTAs
and, at the same time, FTAs could contribute to good governance.
The forum was organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation
for Freedom (FNF), a German political foundation that promotes
the liberal principles of participatory democracy, human rights,
and free market. “FTAs are complicated. The best way to
support developing countries in the long run is by opening trade
to them. The problem for politicians often is how to make the
public appreciate FTA's benefits in the short term. This forum
is a start on how we can strategize to deal with the issue,”
said FNF Country Director Jules Maaten.
FNF celebrated its 25th anniversary in the Philippines last year.
They presented their 25th anniversary video for the first time
at the forum. The video features liberal leaders narrating the
Foundation's contribution to strengthening democracy in the country.
The 170 participants also wrote messages on FNF's Freedom Wall.