Top Story

Increased intra-Asian trade pushed

Posted on August 22, 2011

THE ASSOCIATION of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can insulate itself from the economic woes of the United States and Europe by strengthening relations within the trade bloc and with regional giants, a Cabinet official said.

"What is becoming very clear is that [for] countries like the Philippines and other members of ASEAN, we’ll have to look ... at how we can continue to pursue our growth strategy with domestic consumption within our own country, within ASEAN and intra-Asia," Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima said at last week’s Credit Suisse ASEAN+India Conference in Singapore.

Mr. Purisima pointed out that a quarter of ASEAN trade was done among member countries, with the US just the fifth biggest trading partner, trailing China and Japan. This shows that the region is becoming less reliant on developed countries, he said.

It is also a sign that ASEAN is becoming more integrated, the Finance chief added, and with this the region, and also India, could be a counterbalance to China.

"An ASEAN engagement with India is going to be crucial in really fulfilling that vision ... It’s important that we grow with India," Mr. Purisima said. He called for an improvement of trade relations, noting that India only accounted for 2.5% of ASEAN trade.

The Philippines, in particular, is on track to improving its trade with India, he added.

"I’m referring to the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry where the Philippines is now third, next to India and China. We’re seeing increased engagement of Philippine-based companies with Indian companies and Indian companies competing in the Philippine BPO space," Mr. Purisima said.

Closer ties, he said, will allow the region to weigh in on the global financial situation, alongside the "giants of the world."

"We, as developing markets, not one individually but together, need to become a bigger portion of the global economy. We have to find a way to put together our influence so that we can have a say in the direction of the global economy," he said. -- DCJJ