WITH the fundamentals for a sustainable growth, the Philippines can become an economic and moral force that can lead an effort to realize the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) full potential and stabilize the rest of Asia.
Hyun Jin Preston Moon, founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation, bared this vision Wednesday before local and foreign delegates attending the foundation’s four-day convention at Mariott Hotel in Pasay City.
For a nation to achieve economic prosperity, it should have a free economic system anchored on innovation and entrepreneurship, but governed by sufficient regulatory and enforcement mechanisms to compel everybody to behave in a way that aligns to societal values and levels the playing field for all its citizens, he said.
Government, he stressed, should do away with the so-called “closed system” that only benefits those with influence and social access, and deprives the “little guy” with greater ideas and huge dreams of a shot to prosperity.
Moon however stressed that there are no shortcuts in life, and for a country to achieve a sustainable, equitable and prosperous economy, it needs people of conscience, whose collective decisions advance the greater good instead of benefiting a few.
“The overarching economic approach of the Global Peace Foundation, hence, calls for less government interference in the marketplace in line with classic liberal economic principles with one very important addition – the development of societies in which the collective ethos is rooted on universally accepted moral ethic that guides the national and global economic systems. Systems, remember, are values-neutral. It is people who infuse those structures with their unique values perspectives that leads to varying outcomes, whether good or bad,” he said.
Key trading hub
Moon said the Philippines was ripe to play a key role, thrive economically and lead Asean to its full potential, leading to peace and stability in Asia.
He cited, among others, the Philippines’ strategic location and key ties with prosperous countries like Korea, Japan, the US, China and India, abundant natural resources and an English-speaking workforce.
“More importantly, I believe the Philippines can become a key trade and economic hub in the larger Pacific Rim region that links East and West as a gateway, whereby it offers distribution, professional services and manufacturing capabilities, among others,” he said.
The Philippines, as chairman of this year’s Asean meetings, can set the tone for the 10 member-countries to demonstrate proper moral and innovative leadership, Moon said.
He pointed out that the 10 Asean member-nations have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2.6 trillion and a population of over 622 million in a strategically important part of the world.
Moon noted that in the 2017 Economic Freedom Index published by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, the Philippines moved 12 notches higher.
He said that since 2012, the Philippines has recorded a remarkable growth rate, saying that the country’s GDP growth for 2016 of 6.8 percent was the second best in Asia, after India.
Moon said the reasonably low level of foreign debt, good macroeconomic fundamentals and robust economic growth gave comfort to international markets and rating agencies.
“The Philippines is also fortunate to be among the world’s top five minerals reserve countries, with mining permits currently given to cover only 2 percent of the reserve area, which promises enormous future revenue opportunities,” he added.