Monday, October 27, 2014

Theme For Adivay Festival 2014 Addresses The Imminent ASEAN Integration

The year 2015 is just over two months away. When it finally comes, people who are in the loop with regards to the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), will be expecting significant if not major changes in the Cordillera region's economy. 

The province of Benguet will most likely be the one to be affected the most. It's therefore no surprise that for this year's edition of the annual Adivay Festival, the province has chosen a theme that directly addresses the imminence of the integration. This year's theme goes, "On ASEAN Integration: Benguet Faces Its Challenges And Grasps The Opportunities".

The ASEAN Integration is a bold if not ambitious initiative, the core of which aims to create a market in Southeast Asia wherein the flow of goods, services, capital, investments and skilled labor is much less restrictive. A lot of people often use the term "free flow" but this can be very misleading as there can be no free flow of goods, services, etc."Less restrictive" would be the most appropriate term to use.

The economy of the province of Benguet is heavily driven by agriculture. This is why it's expected to be greatly affected by the ASEAN integration. The less restrictive market that the integration creates opens the entry of vegetables from other nations. This will present a substantial increase in competition for Benguet farmers. It's definitely a huge challenge for the province and it admits so in this year's Adivay Festival theme.
Photo from benguet.gov.ph.
The theme also alludes to opportunities that the integration will open. It's very difficult to think what these opportunities would be. At this point, it seems that the only opportunities that the province will get from this integration is the chance to export agricultural products and skilled labor. There's also the likelihood that more investments from member nations will flow into the province.

It's too early to tell how the integration will affect the province. At this point, however, the challenges seem to trump the opportunities.








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