Farmers not ready for AFTA

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Friday, July 18, 2014

WHILE the country reels for the effects of the full implementation of the Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) next year, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the country has not prepared the farmers to compete globally.

Trillanes, during a recent visit to the Summer Capital, said the country's agriculture sector would be devastated when the AFTA, is enforced in 2015, or less than a year from now.

The senator added Benguet, whose lifeblood depends on agriculture, will be among the hardest hit in the country in the agreement which lifts all tariffs on agricultural products among the 10 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.


"Not only Benguet province will be affected but the entire country because the government failed to modernize farming techniques in order to be competitive in the global market," Trillanes said.

AFTA was formed by the Asean countries in 1993 with aim to increase Asean's competitive edge in production in the world market. It will open doors for intense competition from the 10 Asean neighbors.

The regional body envisions an economic integration process similar to that of the European Union that would expand the market and business opportunities for member countries. The plan involves the liberalization of trade in goods through the reduction and elimination of tariffs under the AFTA.

Asean member countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The Philippines is included in the agreement opening doors for products to enter the country, including vegetables legalizing smuggled vegetables, most often than not from China.

Trillanes said the country needs to mechanize farming to compete with neighboring countries in the world market.

"Modernizing the Filipino farmers' technique and train them to use new technologies and modern facilities will help us cope with the effects of Asean Integration," added the senator.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 19, 2014.

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