NEWS of possible economic downgrades seems to be the order of the day in some growing economies. China, which for many years has shown convincing growth, has exhibited a slowdown in its growth performance. From GDP growth of 10.4 percent in 2010, the pace slowed to 9.3 percent in 2011 and finally to 7.8 percent in 2012. All indications also point to a possible lower-than-expected GDP growth for our local shores this year. The Philippines has seen its growth slow to 5.7 percent in the first quarter and this is bound to slide down further with a possible downgrading of the official growth target.
Singapore, for a time, had experienced double-digit growth rates, but now it has also experienced some slowing down with a growth rate of less than 3 percent last fiscal year. Is it by any standard an indication of a further slowdown in regional or even global economic activity?
We hope not, because it will be tragic for other regions of the world, including the Western economies and Europe as well, which for a time went through protracted financial and economic turmoil and it would be catastrophic if another meltdown is in the offing.
The trend of a slowdown in global economic activity should not be dismissed as a cyclical process that is inevitable, but a cleansing off process that separates those countries with the capabilities and potential to compete from those that have none. This is normal and bound to transpire in any economy, whether big or small, yet the only thing that distinguishes one country from another is its strength and resiliency, if its economy is able to resist or situate itself given financial disorder.
The Philippines was able to survive the onslaught of the 1997 Asian financial crisis with a strong economy and a growth rate of percent which enabled it to withstand the challenges at that time. But without the presence of a strong economy, it would have been tragic for our local economy, in the same manner that it was disastrous for Thailand and Malaysia during that time.
In this age of technological advancement, it is not enough that you have the resources and competitive advantage. It is a matter of utilizing whatever resources are available at your disposal with utmost efficiency and productivity.
We can all learn from the many experiences of countries in our midst that took advantage of technology to better their economic position.
Singapore and Middle East countries, despite being bereft of natural and other basic resources to sustain their economies, took advantage of the available technology as well as their people’s resilience to endure and make the most of what is available for their economic survival, and in the final analysis, came out victorious.
Despite worldwide awareness of the need for financial and economic stability, the world has thus far performed merely for survival. While China, undisputedly the world’s biggest and strongest economy, may have had unending surpluses, it is now slowly feeling the strong possibility of an “economic bubble”. It would have been quite dramatic if there were more resources that would satisfy the buyers’ need; but there is none. The danger of a bubble burst looms in the horizon unless drastic actions are done by economic authorities to address this malady.
It is perhaps because of these reasons why China, previously a sober country, had to resort to radical actions that would necessitate possible military confrontations; and as it is, they are ready to face the consequences of their actions. Whereas before, China would rather content themselves on territories within the limits of their maritime boundaries, they are now impinging on other territories. This is despite the fact that China ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1996.
These are telltale signs that China would do extreme measures to protect their economic interest. Unless other countries with serious drive to promote their economic interest will make revolutionary moves to protect their interests, the world is bound to move into another dimension; to aspire for political growth that will endanger global peace and in the end will create a far more serious problem of global security than what is impending to come, the global economic slowdown.
Yes, perhaps it may be true that the world’s natural resources can feed 30 billion people (currently we are about 7 billion), yet the allocation of these resources is a serious problem that requires more than just political and economic acumen. The world needs men and leaders who have that unselfish desire of promoting equality and fairness among peoples of the world regardless of race and gender. Yet in these modern times of cyber technology, economic equality and development has failed to keep abreast with the fast-paced changes in technology; indifferent of the fact that everything that grows and develops should start from the basic.
Unless and until people of the world will acknowledge that all resources should be treated or mended according to their proper use and respect each and everyone’s rights and privileges, then we begin to reap what we sow; for in the end, we will be judged not by how much wealth we have accumulated in this world but by how we have treated our God-given resources and brethren.
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