Wednesday, January 24, 2007

trading partners

It was with great pride and sheer pleasure that the present Administration announced that the Philippines and China are henceforth trading partners. In a moment of glory, one is much impressed and elated. It is like a huge giant conceding to be an equal of a tiny dwarf. What an amazing grace!

After such fleeting glorious feeling, doubt begins to gradually creep in. How could such a magnanimous concession come about? Where would such a super generosity be an actuality? It’s too good to be true, too neat to be real.

Then a disturbing question starts to form. China is such a vast land having massive production at minimal cost and a pursuant enormous export. Practically all big malls and markets in the country carry predictable Chinese products selling at strangely low prices.

Thereafter comes the upsetting conviction that there must be something fundamentally wrong with the much celebrated trade agreement—even but considering the three following national open secrets of this country:

First: the Philippines is basically a consumer society. From clothing to food, from house decors to holy images—not to mention Christmas lights and tinsels—all these are imported. And most of them are “made in China”. There are even imported “bagoong” and toothpicks. The recent scandal of “hot” pork smuggled from china has been one long big bad news in the country.

Second: the Philippines has cheap services vis-à-vis high cost of production. The peso is becoming dearer but continues to buy lesser. Its productive economy is singularly very much smaller and costlier. Filipinos themselves purchase local products only in the absence of very cheap Chinese duly imported or simply smuggled items.

Third: the Philippines primarily depend on people as its export. The OFWs remittances is what keeps the country economically afloat. OFWs keep their Filipino families fed, clothed and housed. Records show that there are some 2,800 Filipinos and Filipinas who become OFWs every day of the year.

What has the Administration to trade with China?

24 January 2007