Neda exec cites ‘much gain’ from Asean, Apec alliance

Trade is not the only benefit the Philippines can get from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). 

In a news statement issued on Thursday, Neda Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie G. Edillon said the Philippines has “much to gain” from being part of economic blocs in the region. 

However, in order to maximize the gains, Edillon added the country must continue its efforts to enhance the country’s competitiveness, as well as promote cultural exchanges. 

“One benefit, for example, is in the area of trade. However, even in this regional grouping, we have an inherent disadvantage due to our geography.  We even have a different cultural background from our Asean neighbors,” Edillon said.

“The key message is that regional cooperation does lead to inclusive growth. Then again, significant reforms and improvements need to be undertaken to be part of any regional cooperation. Following such, we move closer to our goal of achieving inclusive growth,” she added.

Given its geographical disadvantage, Edillon said the Philippines should focus on cultural tourism and attract foreigners to experience Filipino culture.

Edillon added the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the Philippines’s blueprint for socioeconomic development, outlines strategies to boost tourism. 

These are coupled with measures to improve the country’s “behind-the-border competitiveness,” particularly in the areas of human capital, infrastructure, logistics and transport, and good governance.

Neda Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion M. Navarro said investments poured into creating efficient, quality and well-developed infrastructure can boost the country’s economic growth and regional cooperation.

“Improving the venue for regional cooperation and increasing people’s access to infrastructure is essential to create more economic opportunities and growth for the country,” Navarro said.

“Given the huge infrastructure- investments needs, Asean may further strengthen its economic partnerships through investment-related activities by supporting infrastructure connectivity in the region,” she added.

Navarro said P1 trillion, or 13 percent, of the P7.7 trillion total investment requirements in the Public Investment Program (PIP) 2017-2022 will be funded by Official Development Assistance.

The PIP is the accompanying document of the PDP. It is a list of the government’s priority programs and projects to be implemented in the medium term.

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