by Akbayan! Representative Walden Bello
ON JAN. 1, 2010, the China-Asean Free Trade Area (Cafta) went into effect. Touted as the world’s biggest Free Trade Area, CAFTA is billed as having 1.7 million consumers, with a combined gross domestic product of $ 2 trillion and total trade of $ 1.3 trillion.
Under the agreement, trade between China and six Asean countries including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore has become duty-free for more than 7,000 products.
By 2015, the newer Asean countries, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, will join the zero-tariff arrangement.
The propaganda mills, especially in Beijing, have been trumpeting the FTA as bringing “mutual benefits” to China and Asean. A positive spin on Cafta has also come from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who hailed the emergence of a "formidable regional grouping" that would rival the United States and the European Union.
The reality, however, is that most of the advantages will probably flow to China.
India International Centre, New Delhi
10th - 12th January, 2010
The discussions in the India-Pakistan Conference: A Road map towards Peace over the last three days have shown how far the public sentiment in both India and Pakistan is inclined towards peace. The participating organizations from both sides of the border represent a vast constituency which is ready to work towards building enduring and sustainable peace between the two countries.
We believe there is a real window of opportunity today, which must not be wasted. These ideas are presented here in a sincere effort to develop friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
This conference is not a stand alone event. The participants resolve to work in groups on each of the areas that were identified in the sessions, to further the gains of the conference.
Open Letter of Civil Society to ASEAN Leaders
ASEAN PEOPLES’ FORUM /
ASEAN CIVIL SOCIETY CONFERENCE
31 October 2009