A small nation in a changing world

Zoilo ‘Bingo’ Dejaresco IIILest it goes into our heads, the Philippines is but a small nation in the global stage. Let us not sound like a small frog croaking in a big pond.  Begging for attention. We can only be laughable.

We may have the highest GDP growth rate in Asia—but our GDP gross value started from a low base so a “great percentage” growth is always relative.

Just to simplify. If one nation has a GDP value of $100 trillion,  just a 1-percent growth makes its GDP $101 trillion worth. While a small nation with a $10-trillion GDP growing 7 percent will only result in a new GDP of $10.7 trillion.

Who is the more progressive nation between the two despite their difference in GDP growth rates?  They are still miles apart.

We may have 103 million Filipinos, but 25 million of them thrive below the poverty line, making it hard for the government to service them, thus the Conditional Cash-Transfer Program. A nation with millions in educated, skilled population means a productive and truly  wealthy nation. That  is a nation with a very strong middle class and a respectable
per-capita income.

That’s not the Philippines, beg your pardon, sirs.

Tiny as we are, it behooves us, therefore, to be friendly to all nations and try not to unnecessarily create enemies. Because in a few decades, many nations’ lot will be altered from what they are today.

It was instructive to have been shared insights from a book titled The Next 100 Years (A Forecast at the 21st Century) authored by George Friedman, a former president of a Philippine steel company.

In practical terms, it is wise for President Duterte to warm up once again to the United States even after “doing a pivot” to China and Russia in the last months.  Especially now that the American president-elect seems to have the same vibes as our president.  “A friend in need is a friend, indeed”, may we say so.

These are the forecasted highlights of the book.

China, already slowing down  these years is bound to still slump further “due to severe political skirmishes between the prosperous coastal regions and the poorer interior regions.”

Russia’s military might will be ultimately dissipated in containing its border conflicts with the other former USSR states.  It fought Georgia in a five-day war in 2008 and annexed Crimea in 2014.

But many of the other nations surrounding Russia (from the USSR dismemberment) either have closer ties to the west, are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, or euro zone, or have granted access to western powers for their fight in Afghanistan. Some of these are Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Uzebistan and Tasikistan.

On the other hand, the US—consistently  now in gradual economic recovery—will  reportedly maintain its supremacy as a military, technological and economic superpower. What will be added to its arsenal  will be its assumed control of airspace above the Earth’s atmosphere—giving it implied military and information edge. It might be futile, therefore,  to really fight city hall.

Nearer home, the reunification of North and South Korea is expected around 2030 and it is assumed that such reunion will outlive the present leaders Kim Jun Ong and Park Geun-hye, respectively. The first one is nuclear-obsessed and the other is a corrupt leftist.

It would pay for the Philippines to take heed of the emerging new superpowers as forecast in that Friedman book:  Japan (Asia), Turkey (Middle East), Poland (East Europe) and Mexico (Americas).

Japan has always been a Philippine ally and big trade and financial partner after World War II. But we hardly hear very much from the three other countries (in relation to the Philippines) except Mexico, to a slight degree.

We still have to read the entire book to find out for certain what is in store for the now weakening EU, assess the impact of Brexit to Asian relationships and find out whatever will happen to  the other population giants mentioned  in the not so distant past as having dragon-potentials like India and Brazil.

Right now, for the Philippines to have enough muscles, it must try to hasten together with the neighboring countries of 600 million people the full creation and documentation of the Asean bloc. This is our only ace in being able to stand up nose to nose to the new giants to come.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos is right when he says the Philippines should “not rock the boat, we are all in this together”. That also includes, by the way, honoring the Paris Agreement on climate change and all existing treaties the Philippines must hold sacrosanct as part of its sovereign responsibility.

We are a community of nations and we should behave like good citizens of that community.

Friend to all—with enmity to none is a good advice as any today.


Bingo Dejaresco, former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and political strategist. He is a Life Member of Finex but his views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex. E-mail: dejarescobingo@yahoo.com.



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