APEC to be launching pad: PH should thwart TPP bandwagon, group warns

tpp

The TPP is expected to eliminate tariffs further on thousands of goods and services, impose stricter rules on intellectual property rights and the supremacy of investor over state interest

Research group IBON warned that the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting will most certainly be used to campaign for a powerful Pacific multilateral trade deal led by the United States. But by now the Philippines and other Asia Pacific countries should be aware of its dire implications and resist the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the group said.

The TPP agreement, which according to US president Barack Obama will instill a US-led system of trade and investment in the region, has recently been inked by twelve nations. Current members Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam account for at least 40% of global GDP and 33% of global trade. While its details are yet to be publicized, reports are that the TPP is expected to eliminate tariffs further on thousands of goods and services and impose stricter rules on intellectual property rights as well as the supremacy of investor over state interest.

Despite the deal’s anticipated unprecedented infringement on countries’ economic independence, the Philippine trade department has begun preliminary consultations towards formal discussions for its own membership in the TPP. However, joining the TPP bandwagon will only aggravate the country’s shrinking production, IBON said.

The group pointed out that even without the TPP, the Philippines’ steady implementation of APEC-prompted trade liberalization pushed tariff levels down, eroding food self-sufficiency and overall domestic production. By 2012, the Philippines had among the lowest agricultural and non-agricultural tariffs in Asia. From an average of 21% from 1991-2000, the share of agricultural production in gross domestic product (GDP) fell by about 50% from 2011-2014 or to its lowest in more than two decades. Likewise, the share of manufacturing in GDP also fell to 23%, its lowest average level in almost 60 years.

APEC-framed globalization has also aggravated the ‘de-nationalization’ and ‘de-industrialization’ of the Philippine economy, IBON said. Transnational corporations (TNCs) in the Top 1000 corporations in manufacturing accounted for almost 70% of annual earnings from 2004-2013. While foreign investments increased yearly by 54.6% in the last two decades, job creation declined yearly by 4% in the same period.

Contrary to its stated goals of inclusiveness, APEC has identified areas for discussion this year such as food security, “blue economy”, small and medium enterprises and disaster risk reduction, which are being explored as implementation grounds of corporate-biased policies favorable to TNCs of developed countries especially the US, the group said.

With the country’s experience with globalization accentuated by jobs and production crises, the Philippine government should abort its application for TPP membership and do away with the neoliberal paradigm altogether, IBON said.

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