Philippines could become gateway to ASEAN

The Philippines could become a gateway to Southeast Asia when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pushes through with market integration in 2015, a Cabinet official last week said.

“We in the Philippines look forward to ASEAN integration in 2015. Our hope is that the Philippines will be the Northern and Pacific gateway to ASEAN,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said during Standard Chartered’s Singapore Forum 2013.

“The Aquino administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to invest in infrastructure, our people, and address the constraints to growth to ensure that our people are ready to take full advantage and be part of an integrated ASEAN,” Mr. Purisima added.

The Finance chief noted that integration would help ASEAN tap its potentials.

“The ASEAN demographic places the region in a very strong position for growth. It is important that ASEAN integrates because our collective strengths are more formidable than our individual competencies,” he said.

The region, he added, collectively makes up the world’s third largest population behind China and India.

“The region’s population is also one of the youngest in the world, with an average age of 27, which put the region at an advantage versus the rest of the world.”

ASEAN is currently pursuing regional market integration through various commitments that are targeted to be completed by 2015.

Initiatives towards the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community include the lowering of trade barriers, capital markets integration and greater information sharing, among others.

RP to prepare regional plan

SINGAPORE — The Philippines was tapped by leaders of Southeast Asia and the United States to prepare a new five-year cooperation plan covering trade, labor mobility, cultural exchange and others following their first-ever meeting yesterday.

The move reflected Washington’s policy shift toward a more active involvement in the region, marked by a decision to engage members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) without treating countries like Myanmar as outcasts.

A statement was issued following the first meeting between a US president and heads of all 10 ASEAN countries, calling for “broader and deeper” cooperation and enhanced economic cooperation, particularly in easing customs procedures. They agreed to hold a second meeting next year.

Read More>>

Group seeks RP exemption from Asean tariff regime

President Gloria Arroyo sits with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (right), Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (third from left) during the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand on Sunday.

President Gloria Arroyo sits with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (right), Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (left) and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (third from left) during the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand on Sunday.

For domestic industries to fully recover from damages caused by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) said that the government must invoke an article of the Asean

Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) that would temporarily exempt the country from the zero-tariff regime beginning next year under the Asean Free Trade Area-Common Effective Preferential Tariff (AFTA-CEPT) scheme.

In a statement over the weekend, FPI added that in a letter it sent to President Gloria Arroyo last week, the group appealed that the Philippines immediately invoke Article 23 of ATIGA, or the “Temporary Modification or Suspension of Concessions,” citing the “extreme circumstances resulting from the devastation of the recent national calamities.”

Read More>>

IFJ welcomes press freedom commitment, new Asean body

MANILA, Philippines – An international media watchdog group welcomed Tuesday the formation of the Legislative Caucus on Rights and Free Expression, a new regional body of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to promote press freedom.

The International Federation of Journalists noted the formation of the Caucus was announced at the 14th Asean summit in Thailand last February 28.

“The IFJ encourages the Legislative Caucus on Rights and Free Expression to take an active role in opening stronger lines of dialogue between Southeast Asian governments and the international human rights and press freedom communities,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

“In 2008, nine journalists in the Philippines, four in Thailand and one in Cambodia were killed while conducting their professional work. In 2009, the Philippines has already seen the murder of a radio journalist and the attempted murder of another,” IFJ added.

Read Full Article

ASEAN vows coordinated effort vs economic crisis

In a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day 14th ASEAN Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, the leaders vowed to shun protectionism and to support efforts that would bolster global trade, while allotting sufficient resources to save jobs and assist vulnerable sectors.

The statement did not spell out any specific actions but the leaders said they endorsed expansionary policies, including fiscal stimulus plans, monetary easing, access to credit and trade financing, and measures to stimulate domestic demand.

Read Full Story

Local weaves shine in fashion gala

A fusion of timeless pieces and stunning new designs plus a tradition of elegance, good taste and style were showcased in Habi: Weaving the Fabric of Life held, a fashion gala held recently at the National Museum of the Filipino People. It was a glittering part of the 2nd ASEAN Traditional Textiles Symposium.

Local celebrities, prominent social figures and fashionistas arrived at the museum’s Marble Hall in traditional-inspired formal party regalia, an affirmation of the home-grown textile industry.

Read Full Story

EU, Philippines to resume talks on partnership deal

The partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) is needed before the Philippines can participate in a free trade deal the European Commission wants to forge with select members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the officials said.

European Commission representatives led by EU Director for Asia James Moran will be in the country from Feb. 9 to 10, EU Ambassador Alistair MacDonald said.

But instead of starting formal talks this month as earlier scheduled, the meeting will likely be a consultation process continuing previous ones conducted in Brussels late last year, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Edsel T. Custodio said.

Read Full Story