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BLIND SPOT: ASEAN integration vs EU exits

There’s something that the common Filipino probably doesn’t know about ASEAN integration; or that there is such a thing after all. Okay, let’s go over it. On November 20, 2007, in Singapore, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint was signed to “establish stronger rules-based norms and values shared among all member states.” “To full embody the three Bali Concord II pillars as part of the 2015 integration, blueprints for ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) were subsequently adopted in 2009 in Cha-Am, Thailand.” So, the ASEAN has worked for a “sharing of values” in the region for political security, understandably for peace which subsequently would lead to prosperity; and “socio-cultural integration” (which I’m having a hard time comprehending when Southeast Asian nations are probably the most diverse neighboring nations in the world). In fact, it has been said that the only common among us Southeast Asians is that we all eat rice. Come to think of it, some of us look Chinese, some would pass for Indian, and some of us look more like Pacific islanders. European Romance and Germanic language groups would have some linguistic similarities; while there would be very few to absolutely no similarities among our tongues. It would get more complicated if we talk about customs and traditions. So, I just don’t get how this socio-cultural community is going to go about. Well, anyway, I’ll take that for the sake of peace and prosperity. Moving on, “ASEAN leaders signed the declaration of the ASEAN Economic Community during the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2015.” Having its original implementation date brought forward from 2020 to December 31, 2015, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC 2015) “aims to “implement economic integration initiatives” to create a single market across ASEAN nations.” If you missed that, it said “single market”. “The areas of co-operation include human resources development; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on The areas of co-operation include human resources development; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies; trade financing measures; enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity; development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN; integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing; and enhancing private sector involvement.” ( this means that goods and services among member states would easily enter and exit through simplified visa processes, and reduced duties of import goods. This means Filipinos could easily work in Singapore or Laos. Similarly, Thais and Cambodians could easily work in the Philippines. Our pili nuts could easily be imported in Myanmar, and so could their hot throat burning candy be sold along with our local “de lemon”. At the same time, “the ASEAN Economic Community will bring increasing levels of high quality overseas competition to market”. Among the areas of cooperation is the recognition of professional qualifications, which is the reason why DepEd had to fast track the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum to concur with the educational systems of neighboring nations. Otherwise, we would be like cute petite guys lining up for the NBA draft. Now, don’t get surprised if all of a sudden, you see and meet Southeast Asians working alongside the Filipino employees. That’s the ASEAN Economic Community in your face, and in the flesh. DOLE has admitted that this would lead to the death and strengthening of some Filipino industries; and the news is, there’s no backing out from this marriage. Interestingly, while Asians are entering integration, in the other part of the world, Europeans are exiting or attempting to exit their union. “Euroscepticism” which is defined as the wish to sever or reduce the powers of the European Union, has increased from 38% (1993) to 65% (2015) in the British Social Attitudes (BSA) surveys. “Professor Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, argues that inequality across Britain decided the referendum result.” ( French presidential elections frontrunner and National Front leader Marine Le Pen has been quoted to have said, “We will have to find a compromise with Europe to regain sovereignty. If no compromise is found, Ms Le Pen said she wanted to organize a Frexit referendum “to resign from this nightmare and become free again”. ( (“The UK Independence Party claims that the cost of EU membership in total amounts to £83bn gross if you include all possible costs, such as an ‘estimated’ £48bn of r egulation costs – or £1,380 per head [1]. The ONS have estimated a net contribution cost of £7.1 bn.” (Whoa! That’s a big membership fee.) “A large percentage (40%) of EU spending goes on the Common Agricultural Policy. For many years this distorted agricultural markets by placing minimum prices on food. This lead to higher prices for consumers and encouraging over-supply.” The euro has “contributed to low rates of economic growth and high unemployment across the EU.” ( I wonder, will the ASEAN single market go the way of the European euro? “For he is our peace, who hath made both one…” Ephesians 2:14

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