• Aquino ally sounds warning on 2015 Asean integration

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    THE Philippines may not be fully prepared for the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration in 2015 that will allow the free flow of goods and services within the region, a lawmaker warned on Tuesday.

    Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said that concerned government agencies should make an evaluation and brief Congress on how the country is gearing up for the integration of the economies of members of the Asean.

    “A year from now, there will be a free flow of goods and services in Asean. As for the manpower, we will have an edge because of our strong command of the English language, but how would our local manufacturers fare in this? If we are not ready, our factories could close. We should find ways to make them competitive alongside our neighboring countries,” Evardone, a member of the ruling Liberal Party chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

    Asean groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The value of Asean’ Gross Domestic Product under the Asean Economic Community in 2015 is estimated at $1 trillion.

    “The concerned government agencies should apprise Congress on how we are going to meet these challenges, factoring in government subsidies, production cost in each country, considering that our government revenues will surely be affected with the absence of tariffs,” Evardone pointed out.

    To be competitive in the huge Asean Economic Community, Evardone noted that the country should have enough infrastructure, improve the production of industries as well as logistical capacity for the smooth flow of goods and services, provide access to capital for businesses and have a highly-skilled labor force.

    “This could be a threat and an opportunity at the same time. It’s either people will lose jobs, or more people will get jobs. Hindi tayo dapat natutulog sa pansitan (The concerned government agencies should not be sleeping on their jobs here),” the lawmaker said.

    Customs commissioners and Directors General of the 10 Asean member nations met beginning yesterday to establish the blueprint for the Strategic Plans of Customs Development in preparation for the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

    The Bureau of Customs plays host to the 15th Asean Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation Working Group (CPTFWG) meeting which is being held at the Trader’s Hotel.

    The three-day conference aims to help facilitate the realization of the Asean single market and production base.

    Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon explained that they aim to come up with a common framework regulating customs operations and intervention and strengthen cooperation and mutual assistance between the customs authorities and Asean member states including the prevention and repression of all forms of smuggling and customs fraud.

    “The international customs community is now going through a radical paradigm shift. Trade barriers are being dismantled and the free flow of goods and services among nations is now the global market trend.” Biazon said. “We need to be on board this global economic trend, otherwise we will be left behind in the doldrums of economic stagnation”

    WITH A REPORT FROM VOLT PALAÑA

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