Philippines businesses lukewarm to benefits of ASEAN links

By Czeriza Valencia

MANILA, Philippines — Businesses in the Philippines are still largely unenthusiastic on the benefits of membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The results of the study titled “What does the ASEAN mean to ASEAN peoples?” showed the business sector in the country indeed recognizes that membership in ASEAN is important in increasing access to international markets, travel and jobs as well as in maintaining peace and stability, but the benefits fall short of the negative effects of several trade policies and bureaucratic inefficiency.

“These benefits are perceived by the business sector as meagerly impacting the country,” said Sheila Siar, research information director at PIDS.

Local businesses are particularly put off by non-tariff barriers imposed by other ASEAN countries, as well as bureaucratic corruption and inefficiency.

The study, said corruption and related government problems are seen as bottlenecks to production efficiency, investment attractiveness, competitiveness and development.

The study, which was also conducted in other ASEAN member states, sought to gather the pulse of the business sector in relation to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). PIDS partnered with Jakarta-based Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) for the conduct of the study.

Philippine businesses also reported “moderate awareness of ASEAN,” according to the study. Siar said this was also seen in other countries.

“In general, all of them registered moderate awareness of ASEAN and moderate identification as ASEAN citizens,” said Siar.

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