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Monday, April 26, 2010

NEDA slammed as "alarmist" on PROC-Taiwan trade agreement

Jackson Gan, president of the Pilipino Manpower Association for Taiwan, Inc.
(PILMAT), the association of licensed overseas employment agencies
responsible for deploying thousands of overseas Filipino workers to Taiwan,
yesterday scored National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) acting
secretary general Augusto B. Santos for sounding a false alarm on the impact
of a yet to be consummated Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA)
between Taiwan and the mainland People's Republic of China.

"The warning of Sec. Santos that Filipinos in Taiwan may lose their jobs;
that Taiwanese foreign direct investments in the Philippines may drop; and
that Philippine tourism may enormously suffer, is without factual basis and
is sending the wrong signal to the people," Gan said.

"He is sounding an alarm without basis that could jeopardize the country's
economic stability. His warning that thousands of OFWs may lose jobs is
far-fetched," he added.

Gan, who is also the Vice President of the Federated Associations of
Manpower Exporters, Inc., was reacting to published reports that Santos had
made a presentation to the Cabinet warning that the above scenarios could
happen as a result of the PROC forging closer economic cooperation ties with
neighboring Taiwan. His beef is with the secretary's assertion that OFWs in
Taiwan may lose their jobs if Taiwanese factories move to mainland China.

This assertion, Gan said, has no strong footing because while the investment
climate in China is now more liberal, there is little likelihood that the
electronics manufacturing sector-Taiwan's economic pillar which employs
thousands of Filipinos-will transfer immediately to China because of
national security concerns.

He explained that the sector is not among the 99 industries and business
lines that Taiwan would like to be liberalized because its defense ministry
is not too keen about the ECFA.

Taiwanese electronics manufacturing companies are not also warm to the idea
of hiring Chinese mainlanders because of security risks, such as sabotage,
piracy and counterfeiting.

He cited the example of Hong Kong which returned to the possession of China
in 1997, but still has not lost its economic and financial luster nor its
investments and workers despite China's aggressive economic liberalization
and growth.

Another reason the ECFA is not yet a 'done deal' as Santos projected is that
there is too much domestic opposition in Taiwan, particularly from women
groups, to the agreement.

"Taiwanese oppositors to the ECFA say the agreement will impact not only on
trade and the economy, but also on politics, sovereignty, society and
culture. Hence, they are calling for further debates, even a referendum, on
the ECFA," Gan explained.

"Some Taiwanese are saying that the "complete trade opening which would
follow the accord would also influence Taiwan's democratic way of life, its
public order and its common values, which are totally different compared to
communist-dominated China", the PILMAT president added.

As to the Philippines, Gan called on the NEDA to work closely with the
Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare
Administration in fashioning out a long-term and viable OFW reintegration
program that could be quickly and effectively implemented if and when the
China-Taiwan ECFA becomes a reality.

"Alarming the people on dire things yet to calm is not helpful," Gan said.

OFW Journalism Consortium

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