Friday, March 07, 2008

China Will Swallow Us Whole

We really need to get our act together, or else China will swallow us whole. Jae of Akbayan reports filing a case questioning the constitutionality of more China-Arroyo deals allowing the lease of 1,000,000 hectares of our land to Jilin Fuhua Corporation. Jae also has the PDF of the petition on her blog post.
The Fuhua Co. MOU’s proposed lease of one million hectares of land will effectively disenfranchise farmers and farmworkers working these lands; on the unlikely possibility that there are no such farmers / farmworkers present in these areas, it still behooves CARP implementers to distribute the lands to farmers and farmworkers that were not accommodated in the respective landholdings (due to land availability limitations) or to qualified ARBs who were unduly dislocated from their areas or because of undue land conversions, CARP exemption, or CLOA/ EP cancellations.
A summary of RP-PRC deals on agriculture can be found on Newsbreak.

Given that 1/3 of our total labour force are still employed in agriculture sector, and there aren't industries to absorb their displacement, their choices aren't very many.
Tariff reduction cause agriculture output to contract while industry and services output expand...Both industry and service sector appears to benefit from resource reallocation as a result of tariff reduction. The former absorbs unskilled laborer (production worker previously working in agriculture) displaced in agriculture. While the latter experience an increase in return to capital.

However, the absorption capacity of the manufacturing sector to accommodate workers displaced in agriculture has been minimal. This is because of the inherent manufacturing production structure in the country, which utilizes minimal value added. Thus, in spite of the increase in proportion of household income coming from unskilled production wages, limited increase in income level has been gained. The impact of this is troublesome for rural households trying to move out of agriculture. The rigid labor absorption capacity of manufacturing may generate poverty ramifications especially for rural households who are only endowed with unskilled production skills.
So, what are farmers left to do other than take up arms and join insurgents? Twiddle their thumbs? Train to be call centre agents? Oh, hang on, lets export all 13,000,000 of them! But then, who's going to grow our food?

The ASEAN-China Free Trade Area will kick into full gear in two years. Here's an article assessing the opportunities and costs of the ACFTA. Its not freely downloadable, but I have it. If you're interested, leave your address and I can email it to you.
ASEAN should not focus in competing with China on the basis of costs, but should focus on improving product and service quality, efficiency and reliability. They should try to move up to higher-value products and develop their own specialities and niches by improving the skills of their human resources and level of technology.

ASEAN countries should look for ways of complementing with China, rather than competing with China. There are areas where China has a comparative disadvantage, particularly in agricultural products, intermediate capital goods, mineral products and services.

To get a preferential entry for these particular products and services in the Chinese market under the ASEAN-China FTA should help the ASEAN countries to compete with other more advanced countries which have been supplying these goods and services in China. However, the ASEAN countries at the same time must ‘set their houses in order’ to have the ability to respond to the preferential access-induced economic opportunities in the Chinese market

I don't see why we can't just grow food on our own terms and then export to China. Will someone explain this to me?!? Oh, wait I know. Because agricultural revolution has yet to happen in this country.

Hala sige. Matira matibay.


Read also:

On Global Food Fights


Jae said...

our leaders are bargaining away our land, our sovereignty, our FOOD sovereignty, and our future. hay naku.

p.s. thanks for mentioning the case! :-)

Anonymous said...

So, what are farmers left to do other than take up arms and join insurgents? Twiddle their thumbs? Train to be call centre agents? Oh, hang on, lets export all 13,000,000 of them! But then, who's going to grow our food?

You know, training them to be call center agents or getting them to work overseas are not such ideas.

I don't know why you would think (or wish) that they become rebels or bums instead.

And 500,000 farmers could provide for the nations' 85,000,000 mouths to feed if only they had mechanized farming.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should leave your cosy little university life and be a farmer yourself?

C'mon! Seriously, who wants to do farming for a living?

You get up at 4 in the morning, toil the fields 'til 11, do your little siesta 'til 2 pm, back in the field 'til 6 pm, then unwind with a bottle of bilog or quatro cantos with your fellow farmers 'til the you drop and have to wake up and do the cycle again. For the next 365 days.

That's no way to live Sparks. So don't have this romantic notion of farmers "toiling the fields" for the sake of the country. Giving farmers skills as call center agents or OFW's (but not as rebel commies) so they can escape the kind of life they live is dignified. Don't belittle it.

sparks said...


Pwede ba basahin mabuti ang post bago mag-react? Basahin rin ang On Global Food fights.

Basahin rin ang wiki sa agricultural revolution.

May dahilan kung bakit protektado ang mga farmers sa mga pinakamayamang bansa sa mundo.

Mag-isip muna hane bago mag-react.

Anonymous said...

The Philippines doesn't have a food shortage problem. There's plenty of food to go around.

The problem is not that there's no food to buy. The problem is that there's no money to buy food.

They don't have money because too many of them work in agriculture.

In economics, the higher the supply, the lower the price. Because there are too many farm workers, the wages are depressed.

And so we should cutdown the oversupply of labor in agriculture by putting those workers elsewhere-manufacture, service, professional, and low-skill labor sectors. This will give them the opportunity to earn higher incomes and to lessen the supply of agri-workers, thereby increasing the wages.

You don't solve the problem by land reform. Our CARP strategy is akin to a dog sled race. China has 20 dogs to one sled. The Philippines has 200 dogs tied to one sled. And the government thinks that in order to win the race, were going to chop up the sled into bits and pieces, tie each bit and piece to one dog, and watch them all run to the finish line. That won't work.

The better strategy is to cut the 180 other dogs loose and train the 20 dogs and polish your sled. The point being there are too many dogs involved in agriculture to get the sled of food production moving.