PACE OF PEACE: AFTA and the Philippines’ economic well being

MALAYBALAY CITY – (BukidnonNews.Net/11 January) – The year 2015 opens the whole country to opportunities as a member of the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Economic Community (AEC). This means that it is expected to benefit from the agreement that has been established in 1992.

This agreement, the ASEAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (AFTA) envisions“to establish ASEAN as a single market and production base, turning the diversity that characterizes the region into opportunities for business complementation making
it a more dynamic and stronger segment of the global supply chain. Its strategy shall consist of the integration of ASEAN and enhancement of the ASEAN’s economic competitiveness.”

Towards this end, the ASEAN “shall institute new mechanisms and measures to strengthen its implementation of existing economic initiatives; accelerate regional integration in the priority sectors; facilitate movement of business persons, skilled
labor and talents; and strengthen its institutional mechanisms.”

This vision of ASEAN where the Philippines is one of the 10 members requires institutional preparation that the government must address. The agreement offers better opportunities for investments in all aspects that can generate more employment. It implies also that the human resources of the country must have the training / expertise needed in the growing number of industries and manufacturing enterprises.

With this development, a holistic preparation has been designed to address the various sectors affected. The business sector was made to understand that local products will have greater chances in the global market as long as it meets the quality standard, on one hand while their products maybe threatened by the unprotected inflow of the foreign products that will enter the domestic markets with the zero tariff policy.

What is AFTA’s implication on the service sector?

For the service sector, the AFTA entails wider job market for the member countries’ constituents. For the Filipino human resources, the widening potential job market means more chances for employment.

The ASEAN however, implements the quality standard for the human power that must be complied with. In other words, standard qualification must be met and this can only be achieved through some revisions to the curricular offerings of the higher education institutions.

Specific knowledge and skills must be acquired needed in the industries or in the service sector.

In other words, the AFTA as an economic strategy to improve the quality of life of the people in the ASEAN region requires a more comprehensive understanding of its impact not only on the economy of the Philippines. It should also aid the other sectors, specifically, the academe in effectively preparing its pool of human resources to become more employable amidst the presence of foreign service providers who may compete with the local job seekers.

For the potential labor force / pool of human resources in the country, they are faced with the greater challenge of getting more and advanced training and professionalism to make them competitive in the local, ASEAN, and global job market.

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News.Net. Dr. Lourdes G. dela Torre is an educator and researcher whose works have been presented in various national and international conferences. She has published books on Peace Education and Field Study. She is a consultant on community organizing, social, and peace studies. Pace of Peace is her column for Bukidnon Views. She can be reached at