The of ASEAN because it has lots to offer

            The
Philippines, being a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) is a big leap to improving not just our economy, but our people, our
competitive advantage, and our country as a whole. Central to what the ASEAN
aims to achieve, the Philippines is expected to have growth in terms of
economy, social development, and cultural progress through the cooperation and
integration among Southeast Asian counties.

            Personally,
I cannot say that the ASEAN integration is neither solely good to our country
and Cebu nor solely bad. I believe that partaking in an economic integration
will have an essential effect on our country, but has also shortcomings. But
for me generally, it is essential for us to be a part of ASEAN because it has
lots to offer to us to improve as a developing country. Some of the many benefits
that our country may enjoy from participating in the ASEAN as I have learned in
economics are (1) save resources including labor, time, and effort; (2) lower
prices of goods and services; (3) improved talent and skills; (4) access to new
and bigger opportunities for individuals.

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Through the
free trade that the ASEAN wants to impose in all of its member countries, it
will be much easier for us to import goods from other countries that will help
fill our needs that our own supply cannot meet. In addition, in line with the
law on comparative advantage, doing so will allow countries to specialize in
the production of goods. Cebu, being known as a major exporter of furniture,
handicrafts, coconut, and dried mangos will be able to focus on producing these
goods since ASEAN will allow us to acquire other goods and services we need at
a lower cost as a result of specialization, economies of scale, and free
tariff. The exchange of goods and services among countries will help us to
produce effectively by also utilizing the scarce resources efficiently. Thus,
the ASEAN integration will basically improve one’s standard of living since
lower costs can help people to have more savings rather than consumption
expenditures. The ASEAN integration can also be an avenue to showcase each
region’s skills and talents. Cebu can then be recognized in Southeast Asia as
the best furniture maker by having the chance to export these goods to
different countries in Southeast Asia freely.

            Investments
of foreign companies may also take place as a result of the integration. Cebu
is known to be a hub for business process outsourcing. Most of our fellow
Cebuanos especially those fresh graduates will invest about a year working in
BPO companies. With the entrance of ASEAN, foreign companies are likely to put
up more businesses in the country that will create new opportunities for us.
Studying and working abroad will also be possible, and this will have a major
impact in the country since the new generation which will be then the leaders
of the future will have the chance to receive higher quality education with the
most competent students in Asia. By then, ASEAN can hone the talent, skills,
and abilities of these young students to be more competitive and adaptive to
the ever dynamic environment. For students, in my own perspective, aside from the
academic benefit of the ASEAN, it will also allow self-development. Facing
different people of different nationality and different culture will teach to
us embrace diversity. Thus, the ASEAN is very helpful to us since it has so many
benefits that our country can enjoy from.

            However,
that is only the one side of the coin. As I have mentioned earlier, ASEAN has a
lot to offer, but there might be also disadvantages of this cooperation. I
believe that those who live in rural areas will be the most affected ones. When
prices go down, the competition becomes fiercer in the market. What will happen
now to our small-scale businesses? Local businessmen may suffer from this
lowering of prices because they may not realize profits anymore. Small and
medium enterprises including the agricultural sector in Cebu which is currently
slow in productivity are in danger of being outcompeted by large foreign
companies investing in Cebu since they might be more equipped than us in terms
of technologies being used. Skilled workers will also be then preferred and
offered with high salaries, while our fellow Cebuanos for instance, who are
less privilege will become poorer.

Cebu is still
a rising city in the Philippines, a growing economy next to Manila. With the
entrance of more businessmen and more people, it might look like Manila soon—crowded
city, noisy streets, pollution, etc. making it a less livable city, at least
for Cebuanos. With this, there is a possibility for environmental issues to
become more prevalent.

            With the advantages and
disadvantages brought by the ASEAN integration, I can say that it is good in a
sense that it will be a stepping stone for our country to be more competitive
than ever. It will enhance our economic position that will also help the
quality of life not just by Cebuanos but us, Filipinos. However, it is also bad
in the sense there will be people that will be left behind in these ASEAN
integration, at least initially. Those who are in need will remain in need. A
slow progress will possibly be experienced by them. However, I believe that because
the new generation is set to face this new environment, in the long-run, these
SMEs or farmers perhaps will eventually adapt the changes in the setting. With
the help of the younger generations who will primarily benefit from the ASEAN
integration in terms of education and job opportunities, they are bound to help
their hometowns, mothers and fathers especially if they own small businesses to
cope with other businesses that will be put up in Cebu.

            Thus, while ASEAN integration may
hurt Cebu’s growing economy in the short-run, but the Philippine as a whole
will get to reap the benefits from it in the long-run. In my own perspective, I
see this as a helpful way to improve as a nation together with the other
countries. Extending a helping hand to each other will make Philippines rise as
a nation, as well as Southeast Asia as a more competitive region in the coming
years.