Protectionism is out of fashion. The Asean integration is real and unless you are ready you will soon find yourself out of business. The barriers of entry into our markets will be lowered and, simply put, you will now have to compete with our neighbors. Are you ready?
Branding is the only strategy left to address the Asean Integration any which way you look at it, and unless you are already branding, it may already be too late. Toll manufacturing in the Asean countries may no longer prove prudent with their brands entering our markets. What to do?
To quote the ADB: “Activity concerning the 2015 integration of the economies of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been picking up in the past few years. With a little more than six months left, there is both excitement and anxiety as economists, government officials and business executives try to figure out the impact of putting together a regional economy with an estimated gross domestic product of US$2 trillion and a population base of more than half a billion people”.
“In the Philippines, the biggest nontariff barrier identified is infrastructure, which is still relatively weak so that related trade and business costs (for example, shipping costs) remain high. Graft and corruption, while declining, also remains a problem.”
But there are people who believe that the Philippines is prepared for the Asean integration. According to Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr., the country is “primed and ready.” A considerable number of Philippine companies have established their presence within Asean, and are engaged in healthy competition with businesses located in the region, Cristobal notes. But that’s just half of the picture where Filipino companies are investing in other Asean countries.
The end game is not necessarily competition for consumer welfare within the Asean but the global community! Many to date are still nonchalant about the integration while some already see this as a threat. It need not be!
Branding, if not even Superbranding, can save you!
The Asean integration promises new markets across the region that imperil expensive-to-produce goods and services, allowing the more competitive prices to prevail. While most markets survive the price-on-price game, only branding will level the playing field coupled with quality, good value-for-money products and services. But how can brands and branding come into play with only a year to go? The answer, if you still have not branded, is: It may be time to jump ship.
The Asean integration is real. Protectionism and the lowering of barriers of entry are subjected to the unequal playing field like lower labor costs, lower utility rates, less if no corruption, lower taxes, government subsidies and incentives, etc. Our marketplace as we know it will dramatically change.