Chamber calls for ‘fairer trade’


THE country’s oldest business group is pushing for a “paradigm shift” in trade and investment to help attain global peace and stability.

Jose Luis Yulo Jr., president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands, said on Wednesday his group would present the concept before the 2017 Global Peace Convention’s Economic and Business Forum to be held at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City from February 28 to March 3.

“It’s not communism, not socialism, not capitalism, not isolationism, not protectionism, not globalization, but ‘fairism,’ the new paradigm in business and global peace,” Yulo told The Manila Times.

“We need a change to a new ‘ism’ of how the world is run,” he said.

Yulo is aiming to bring back the concept of “Asean Industrial Complimentation” or (AIC), which was started by the five founding member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) but over time was changed to the European Economic Community (ECC) model which, he stressed, was wrong.

Under the AIC concept, he explained, opportunities for business and investment were fair and square because there was division of labor among the Asean countries, “meaning that if zero duty is imposed on an imported car, every Asean [member country]has its one component to manufacture.”

“All of us can import zero duty. It’s cheap because all of us have plants, there are jobs,” he added.
The ECC concept, he pointed out, was anchored on “one market, one production and competition.”

“One market means no import duty but the problem is one production base, it is not industrial complementation. It is okay if the production is here but what if it is in Thailand, what do we gain? Why should we make imports duty-free?” Yulo pointed out.

In competition, he stressed, there are always winners and losers.

“The problem is what do you do with the losers? There’s no such mechanism to help the losers in global trade,” Yulo said.

Unfair trade, he noted, led to “Brexit” or Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, and the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election because of his promise to bring back the jobs lost to free trade deals.

Only about 2 percent of consumer goods sold in the US are made by Americans, while the rest are imported from other countries, majority of them from China.

“That is what is wrong with free trade because the winner takes it all. It’s a zero-sum game, it’s not a win-win game,” Yulo said.

“So how do we engender a win-win situation? It goes back to industrial complementation. It’s the only logical way,” he said.

The Economic and Business Forum was convened during Global Peace Conventions in the past five years in Nairobi, Kenya; Seoul, Korea; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Atlanta, the United States; and Asuncion, Paraguay.

The convention will bring together global experts and practitioners to share best practices and develop multi-sector partnerships for sustainable peace and development and the achievement of the UN’s 2030 “Sustainable Development Goals.”

This year’s convention theme is “Moral and Innovative Leadership: New Models for Peace and Development.”


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