Chinese economic invasion

Kudos to Mr. Bernardo V. Lopez of BusinessWorld for raising and supporting FairTrade’s stand on the RP-China farm deals in his UPSHOT column in BusinessWorld last July 12. Yes, Mr. Lopez, we hope that GMA had the chance to read FairTrade’s position on the RP-China agri deals and will do something about it. Now that the Philippines is bound for a first-world status come 2020, FairTrade hopes that GMA will not allow China take control of our land, forest and all our resources.

Full column of Bernardo Lopez, after the jump.

DA cites benefits to farmers, and food security for the country
Trade alliance airs concerns on agri contracts with Chinese
New Agri Paradigm: Development for Whom?
Roundtable discussion on the RP – China Farm Agreements
Downloadables from FairTrade RTD on RP-China farm deals


Chinese Economic Invasion
By Bernardo V. Lopez
Published in his UPSHOT column, July 12 issue of BusinessWorld

ZTE is but the tip of the sino-iceberg. In an open letter to GMA, the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), headed by ex-Senator Bobby Tanada, reports that the DA signed 19 contracts with China’s agribusiness outfits for joint marine-aquaculture projects, allocating a staggering 1.2 million hectares to produce goods for China without consultations with our farmers and fishermen. The letter says most of the Filipino partners are ‘bogus’. At the helm of the Chinese invasion is our very own dear President.

Like the American Eagle, the Chinese Bear is also a vicious predator. We are the helpless prey, unless we have the political will to deal with them on our terms, and the wisdom to discern that their offer of economic growth is an illusion. The President, labeling it as ‘the new agricultural paradigm’, is taking the Chinese offer hook-line-and-sinker, perceiving this ‘growth’ that would be her legacy. She does not realize she is actually offering the Filipino marginal communities on a silver platter to the voracious Bear.

UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Human Development Report 2006 explains eloquently this illusion of growth – 14 poorest countries in Asia, through very open trade policies, “have triggered a sharp increase in imports, resulting in serious adjustment issues for their economies and a drain on scarce foreign exchange resources. While imports from China to Asia-Pacific’s poorest countries are large and account for more than 20 percent of all their imports, China’s imports from them are extremely limited, at only about US$300 million. More than 75 percent of its trade in the region is with high-income nations such as Japan, the Republic of Korea or Singapore. The poorest countries of the region have limited scope for benefiting from the booming Chinese market, and the possibility exists that Chinese imports are displacing some domestic industries.” The report goes on to say that this has triggered ‘growth enclaves’ which will widen the gap between rich and poor.

Let me warn the private sector then that your perceived growth as a result of partnership with the Bear is only good if it does not contribute to the decline of the majority of marginal Filipinos. If your growth is not our growth, then you are the enemy. And when GMA descends the throne, the empire you may have built may suddenly crumble, as with those of Marcos cronies. Let me warn our congressmen, governors and mayors that you are also China’s targets in their ‘pseudo-development schemes’. China may enrich you but you may lose your votes.

FTA reports the allocation of “2-M hectare agribusiness targets originally set by NEDA under the (Medium Term Philippine Development Plan) MTPDP”. It also says that most of the Filipino partners of the Chinese agribusiness initiatives “have either bogus identities or no agribusiness track record, e.g., Palawan Bioenergy Development Corp., Philippine China Fisheries Corp., One Cagayan Resource Development Inc., were registered only last year or early this year, while the rest (B.M.SB Integrated Biofuels Co., Negros Southern Integrated Biofuels Co., Philippine Marine Technology Group Inc., Sun Warm Tuna Fishing Corp. and E.L. Enterprises Inc.) have not made any reports to the SEC.

“And yet, these firms are supposed to engage in the massive development of bio-fuel, fishery and agricultural products involving hundreds of thousands of hectares and billions of peso investments! One Cagayan Resource even has as incorporators two pairs of couples and a certain Joey Candasua with no known address, who all got their CTCs on the same day (June 22, 2006) and ‘presented’ these CTCs to the Notary Public on June 7, 2006 or two weeks before they got their CTCs! Philippine China Fisheries Corp. was incorporated on January 16, 2007, or the day after the ceremonial PGMA-Premier Wen Jiabao signing of the 19 deals.”

The FTA further reports the existence of a ‘DA-DENR-DAR Convergence Group’ which has identified agribusiness development in 4.8 million ‘idle’ or ‘underutilized’ agricultural lands and 4.0 million ‘idle’ forest lands. The NSO’s Philippine Yearbook 2005 says we have only 9.6 M hectares of agricultural lands left as of 2002. We are clamoring for a Senate investigation to look into these illusions of grandeur of the Executive Branch.

FTA says there is no clear development framework, only “an aimless and lazy foreign investment liberalization framework.’ The scheme will also trample on the mandate of the Agrarian Reform Program by awarding to beneficiaries on condition of compliance with their ‘development’ schemes, which has been done before with multinationals trying to sell their GMO seeds. The Convergence Group is not fostering a development agenda but a poverty-enhancing program.

It is but proper to end with the words of FTA, “Madame President, please stop this madness, this mad scheming by officials who want to ruin the countryside by foisting a false development paradigm while pushing their own narrow private interests. Madame President, please rein in your scheming anti-development officials. Yes, let us trade with China, but no, let us not allow them to take control of our land, forest and fishery resources!” Thank you FTA for your concern for the Filipino. We hope GMA
listens.

UPDATE: To receive dosages of Mr. Bernardo Lopez’ insights, you can e-mail him at eastwind [at] edsamail.com.ph.

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