Modernization drives Free Trade Agreement, zeroing if not lessening tariff rate fees in order to increase trade bloc activities between neighboring countries to strengthen their representation in the International community, and was First (1st) illustrated by the European Union (EU). Said vision was also shared by the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) – 2020 vision to adopt and attain the same partnership between the Ten (10) original member states of SEA region.
The paramount question to be answered is: Whether Philippine laws, policies and procedures are equip to protect our national interest and security before integrating into ASEAN integration 2015. According to CIA World Fact Book, Philippines’ export commodities are as follows:“Semiconductors and electronic products, transport equipment, garments, copper products, petroleum, coconut oil, and fruits.” If ASEAN integration calls for zero tariff rates will it increase or decrease our economic trade. Will Indonesia and Malaysia be encouraged to be Export Partners as well?
|Philippine Export Commodities:||ASEAN Export Partners:||ASEAN Import Partners:|
|Semiconductors and Electronic Products, Transport Equipment, Garments, Copper Products, Petroleum, Coconut Oil, and Fruits||Singapore: 9.3%Thailand: 4.7% (2012)||Singapore: 7.1%Thailand: 5.6%Indonesia: 4.4%Malaysia: 4% (2012)|
Reference: CIA World Fact Book
Philippines was once an exporter of a good quality of Rice until such time when a number of Thailand agriculturist studied said medium of rice-planting. Today, Thailand is close to be “number 1 exporter” of rice, not only in Asia but globally. Well, in fact, Philippines could have been in that position if only the rice planting mechanism was kept as trade secret and or was patented as an “inventive step.” Vietnam, another member of ASEAN is rallying against Thailand as to Rice exportation, while Philippines have never regained its opportunity to export rice. Aforementioned the latter, why Article 22.4 or RA 8293 has never been resorted to by Congress to provide our rice variety a patent protection when the law specifically stated:
“Plant varieties or animal breeds or essentially biological process for the production of plant and animals. xxx Provisions under this subsection shall not preclude Congress to consider the enactment of a law providing sui generis protection of plant varieties and animal breeds and a system of community intellectual rights protection:”
The government was busy reminding its people to shift lifestyle from the staple “rice” to “sweet potato and corn” for we are suffering from low supply or production of Rice to cover even the domestic demand. If our Rice variety mechanism had never been protected then how sure are we that ASEAN integration will not damage us the second (2nd) time around, especially our Semiconductors and Electronic production sectors. Indeed, comity is the principle of international law; however, the government should not be spineless to protect our scientist, engineer, and the whole labour sect.
Ergo, is of conclusion that most if not all of ASEAN member state are yet ready for the integration. For obvious reasons, they would have to integrate themselves first, within, without outside dominance. Harmonization of the laws, policies and procedures cannot be abrupt. Indeed, it is unjustifiable to have the integration much earlier, 2015 instead of the original 2020. It is of everyone’s question, why, what’s with the rush?