FTA, allies push for nationalist development agenda

By Max V. de Leon
Published online on the February 21, 2007 issue of the BusinessMirror

THE Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) and several industry and civic groups launched Tuesday their nationalist development agenda (NDA) advocating five broad economic programs that they hope the government would adopt.

Rene Ofreneo, FTA coconvenor executive director, said they have already forwarded copies of the NDA to members of the Congress, the Cabinet secretaries and Malacañang.

The NDA—which the FTA and its allied industry groups believe as the perfect road map for economic, revival, growth and sustainability—is detailed in a 143-page book published by the FTA.

The book discusses the country’s industrialization regimes, tariff and economic liberalization, the global, regional and bilateral trade agreements and the five-point economic agenda that the FTA and its allies are espousing.

Ofreneo said they will be dissecting the proposals contained in the NDA into specific legislative proposals and ask their friends in the Congress to sponsor them.

He said government officials should not find the agenda as hard to accept since they made the effort not to make it dogmatic.

“We are not pushing for too much protectionism and mindless liberalization,” Ofreneo told reporters at the NDA launching at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

If not adopted immediately, Ofreneo said the country will continue eroding its agro-industrial base and lose hope for a real industrialization.

The first point of the NDA is the adoption of a “coherent, balanced and pro-Filipino trade-development framework” so that trade policies will be consistent with the agro-industrial condition of the country.

The second is to “rebuild the nation’s fences” by recalibrating the tariffs, fortifying the walls against smuggling, strengthening the safety net laws and the rules against unfair trade practices, and promotion of genuine, not ruinous, competition.

The third is the building of the nation’s productive capacity. This is through the resolution of fiscal and debt crisis, although not at the expense of the domestic industry; mobilization of domestic investments; rebuilding of the nation’s industrial and agricultural base; strategizing properly the development of the services sector; and scaling of the value chain.

Fourth is to unleash the people’s productive capacity by enhancing the access of employees, farmers, landless rural poor and informal sector workers to quality but continuing system of education and technical-vocational training.

The fifth agenda calls for the development of a culture of industrialism, excellence and economic nationalism.

“The development of a culture of industrialism, excellence and economic nationalism, we believe, is the most crucial because we don’t have it at this time,” Ofreneo said.

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