ThePhilippines, being a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) is a big leap to improving not just our economy, but our people, ourcompetitive advantage, and our country as a whole. Central to what the ASEANaims to achieve, the Philippines is expected to have growth in terms ofeconomy, social development, and cultural progress through the cooperation andintegration among Southeast Asian counties. Personally,I cannot say that the ASEAN integration is neither solely good to our countryand Cebu nor solely bad. I believe that partaking in an economic integrationwill have an essential effect on our country, but has also shortcomings. Butfor me generally, it is essential for us to be a part of ASEAN because it haslots to offer to us to improve as a developing country.
Some of the many benefitsthat our country may enjoy from participating in the ASEAN as I have learned ineconomics are (1) save resources including labor, time, and effort; (2) lowerprices of goods and services; (3) improved talent and skills; (4) access to newand bigger opportunities for individuals.Through thefree trade that the ASEAN wants to impose in all of its member countries, itwill be much easier for us to import goods from other countries that will helpfill our needs that our own supply cannot meet. In addition, in line with thelaw on comparative advantage, doing so will allow countries to specialize inthe production of goods. Cebu, being known as a major exporter of furniture,handicrafts, coconut, and dried mangos will be able to focus on producing thesegoods since ASEAN will allow us to acquire other goods and services we need ata lower cost as a result of specialization, economies of scale, and freetariff. The exchange of goods and services among countries will help us toproduce effectively by also utilizing the scarce resources efficiently. Thus,the ASEAN integration will basically improve one’s standard of living sincelower costs can help people to have more savings rather than consumptionexpenditures.
The ASEAN integration can also be an avenue to showcase eachregion’s skills and talents. Cebu can then be recognized in Southeast Asia asthe best furniture maker by having the chance to export these goods todifferent countries in Southeast Asia freely. Investmentsof foreign companies may also take place as a result of the integration. Cebuis known to be a hub for business process outsourcing. Most of our fellowCebuanos especially those fresh graduates will invest about a year working inBPO companies. With the entrance of ASEAN, foreign companies are likely to putup more businesses in the country that will create new opportunities for us.Studying and working abroad will also be possible, and this will have a majorimpact in the country since the new generation which will be then the leadersof the future will have the chance to receive higher quality education with themost competent students in Asia.
By then, ASEAN can hone the talent, skills,and abilities of these young students to be more competitive and adaptive tothe ever dynamic environment. For students, in my own perspective, aside from theacademic benefit of the ASEAN, it will also allow self-development. Facingdifferent people of different nationality and different culture will teach tous embrace diversity. Thus, the ASEAN is very helpful to us since it has so manybenefits that our country can enjoy from.
However,that is only the one side of the coin. As I have mentioned earlier, ASEAN has alot to offer, but there might be also disadvantages of this cooperation. Ibelieve that those who live in rural areas will be the most affected ones.
Whenprices go down, the competition becomes fiercer in the market. What will happennow to our small-scale businesses? Local businessmen may suffer from thislowering of prices because they may not realize profits anymore. Small andmedium enterprises including the agricultural sector in Cebu which is currentlyslow in productivity are in danger of being outcompeted by large foreigncompanies investing in Cebu since they might be more equipped than us in termsof technologies being used. Skilled workers will also be then preferred andoffered with high salaries, while our fellow Cebuanos for instance, who areless privilege will become poorer. Cebu is stilla rising city in the Philippines, a growing economy next to Manila. With theentrance of more businessmen and more people, it might look like Manila soon—crowdedcity, noisy streets, pollution, etc. making it a less livable city, at leastfor Cebuanos.
With this, there is a possibility for environmental issues tobecome more prevalent. With the advantages anddisadvantages brought by the ASEAN integration, I can say that it is good in asense that it will be a stepping stone for our country to be more competitivethan ever. It will enhance our economic position that will also help thequality of life not just by Cebuanos but us, Filipinos. However, it is also badin the sense there will be people that will be left behind in these ASEANintegration, at least initially. Those who are in need will remain in need.
Aslow progress will possibly be experienced by them. However, I believe that becausethe new generation is set to face this new environment, in the long-run, theseSMEs or farmers perhaps will eventually adapt the changes in the setting. Withthe help of the younger generations who will primarily benefit from the ASEANintegration in terms of education and job opportunities, they are bound to helptheir hometowns, mothers and fathers especially if they own small businesses tocope with other businesses that will be put up in Cebu. Thus, while ASEAN integration mayhurt Cebu’s growing economy in the short-run, but the Philippine as a wholewill get to reap the benefits from it in the long-run. In my own perspective, Isee this as a helpful way to improve as a nation together with the othercountries.
Extending a helping hand to each other will make Philippines rise asa nation, as well as Southeast Asia as a more competitive region in the comingyears.