My Cup Of Liberty

THIS is a continuation of the earlier column published on Sept. 4, 2018. We are exploring some inconsistency in the formulation that “more smoking (and drinking) prevalence means more cardio-vascular diseases (CVD), cancer, etc.” and hence, people live less healthy and live shorter.
The World Bank’s World Development Indicators (WDI) database provides a good and wide range of data. The selected data shows some surprising results: developed Asian economies Singapore, Japan and S. Korea have high smoking prevalence compared to Australia, US and UK and yet these Asians have (a) lower mortality from CVD, cancer, etc., and (b) higher life expectancy (see Table 1).

A Malaysia-based free market think tank, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in partnership with Manila-based Minimal Government Thinkers will organize a small group forum, “Alternative Tobacco Product Regulations: The Role of the Consumers” on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Holiday Inn Makati.
The event will explore various arguments on the merits and demerits of more government regulation of tobacco and alternative products considering that (a) government wants more revenues and less public health harm, (b) consumers want more freedom about their own lives, and (c) illicit and smuggled products should be controlled because they are a lot cheaper and will encourage more smoking and smokers, not less.
As noted by the earlier paper, whenever the free market is curtailed and restricted, the black market immediately comes in and thrives. Prostitution, prohibited drugs, prohibited gambling, smuggling, all of these products and services are legally banned and prohibited and yet all of them exist until today.
Then IDEAS and Economic Freedom Network (EFN) South East Asia will hold another small group, by invite-only roundtable discussion in the afternoon of the same day, same hotel venue, on “Economic integration within ASEAN.”
Some interesting data on foreign direct investments (FDI) are shown above related to the subject. While FDI inflows constituted only 7.4% of gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) globally in 2017, 4.7% in East Asia, it was 17.7% for ASEAN countries.
FDI inward stock as percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, the ratio was only 27% for East Asia, 40% globally, but 79% in the ASEAN.
These two data show the high degree of ASEAN economic integration not only among themselves but also with the rest of the world. External capital and business are playing a big role in the economic dynamism of the region (Table 2).
For the Philippines in particular, FDI inward stock was only $3.3 billion in 1990, rose to $13.8 billion in 2000, $25.9 billion in 2010 and $78.8 billion in 2017. Good expansion but still low compared to our neighbors in the ASEAN as of 2017: $129.5 billion in Vietnam, $139.5 billion in Malaysia, $219.4 billion in Thailand, $248.5 billion in Indonesia, and $1,284.9 billion in Singapore.
The Charter change initiative of the Duterte administration was wasted by federalism hard sell and short-sightedness, instead of focusing on liberalizing the Philippine economy to more foreign investments and businesses.
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is president of Minimal Government Thinkers, a member institute of Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia.