15.7.15

The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s far-reaching strategic significance

was my Trade Tripper column in the 10-11 July issue of BusinessWorld:

Several developments happened almost simultaneously in the international trade world, and amusingly they all involve just three letters: T, P and A. US President Barack Obama got his Trade Promotion Authority, albeit with much acrimony, and then accordingly set his sights set on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Around about that time, the Philippines gave the clearest declaration yet that it wants to join the TPP. Naturally, without a word if the United States wants the Philippines.

On record, what needs to be done is the Philippines being able to comply with certain requirements for member countries: rule of law, opening up to foreign ownership of businesses or property, addressing State ownership of certain industries, intellectual property, and the like. The fact that the Philippines is requesting for “flexibilities” in dealing with TPP obligations isn’t also helpful.

But history is also against the Philippines, what with how we reacted in the immediate aftermath of the Cancun World Trade Organization ministerial debacle of 2003. Jubilant about the negotiation’s collapse rather than commiserating with our trade partners, particularly the US, we immediately followed this by quite unsubtly publicly rebuffing US invitations to enter into a trade partnership with it. Expectedly, the US has a long memory regarding insults.

Incidentally, the TPP currently includes as parties Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.

It can’t be denied that the TPP is important, at least as far as Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is concerned. As CNN points out, without the TPP “Obama’s entire Asia pivot strategy is in jeopardy. While Obama has struggled to stamp his authority on the globe, his Asia policy had until now been seen as a bright spot given the fracturing of nations in the Middle East, the rise of extremist groups such as ISIS and the return of Cold War-style hostilities with Russia. His promise to channel power and resources toward Asia was widely welcomed in the region as an antidote to China’s rising might among allies deeply concerned about Beijing’s territorial ambitions on the East and South China seas. Japan, for instance, was deeply appreciative of Obama’s forceful statement in April 2014 that US treaty commitments to its ally were ‘absolute’ amidst rising territorial tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.”

Unfortunately, despite this, the Philippines has absolutely no leverage with the US to gain admission to the TPP. Philippine policy regarding China and the West Philippine Sea, for example, is so obsequiously in line with US interests (some say, more American than the US position) that Mr. Obama would rightly see no point in even considering it. Gratitude has no place in foreign relations and no country in its right mind would pay for something it already has.

The other thing that the Philippines perhaps failed to take into account in its wishing is how dysfunctional ASEAN really is. Milton Friedman’s 1997 remarks was recently quoted in relation to the Greek financial crisis but the words practically apply to our region (just change the word “Europe” for “ASEAN”):

“Europe’s common market exemplifies a situation that is unfavorable to a common currency. It is composed of separate nations, whose residents speak different languages, have different customs, and have far greater loyalty and attachment to their own country than to the common market or to the idea of ‘Europe.’ Despite being a free trade area, goods move less freely than in the United States, and so does capital.”

Hence, why Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s lament against the TPP seems spot on. Reported by The Diplomat, he blames “the TPP for leaving half (or, more accurately, six out of 10) ASEAN countries outside of it. ‘We should review again... why the Trans-Pacific Partnership did not include 10 ASEAN members,’ Hun Sen said. “What is the purpose, real intention of establishing [the] Trans-Pacific Partnership... that they include half of ASEAN to be partners... and leaving half of ASEAN outside.”

This is despite the praises that economic commentators (and even Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) have heaped on the TPP. But Hun Sen’s criticism may ultimately be correct, if not for what he actually said.

The TPP is divisive not because it intentionally excludes certain countries but because, as I alluded above, it offers a divided ASEAN of differing interests an avenue to expand trade individually rather than as one. And the nature of the TPP further exacerbates these differences.

Gone are the days when trade negotiations meant the lowering of tariffs and the ridding of quotas. Right now, these are shallow considerations, and for a country like Singapore already mean nothing. But for countries like the Philippines, these will mean copyright and pharmaceutical-related measures, investment regimes, property ownership, and -- most significantly -- investment disputes. The latter effectively transfers to a foreign body the power to hold back health, sanitary, or environmental measures that the Philippines may deem necessary.

Not to be flippant, but the TPP clearly is not as easy as ABC.

Pope Francis’ charity in truth

was my Trade Tripper column in the 26-27 June issue of BusinessWorld:

Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ “green encyclical,” was released to great commotion last week. Immediately, both sides of the environmental divide were quick to claim the papal pronouncement as supporting their positions. The document, it must be said, is superbly engaging reading and contains insights well worth sharing. But radical it is not.

That is, “radical” in the progressive, liberal sense of the word. Nothing much that is new is said in Laudato Si, and its power as an “encyclical for the ages” (as one commentator puts it) has more to do with its earnest call to arms in putting faith at the center of earthly struggles.

In that context, Laudato Si is essentially the Caritas in Veritate for the environment. Indeed, as the Archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, points out: “In his encyclical, Benedict also officiated in the language of the Magisterium of the Church the concept of ‘human ecology,’ dealing with the correct coexistence of people in society and in relation to the environment.”

It would be wrong to consider Laudato Si frowning upon the market economy. In one particular passage, it even mentions that “to continue providing employment, it is imperative to promote an economy which favors productive diversity and business creativity.”

Undeniably, portions of Laudato Si are quite Pope Benedict XVI’ish: “Stop with the cynicism, secularism and immorality” and “human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law.”

And then it ups the ante.

Putting environmentalists on the back pedal, Pope Francis unflinchingly declared: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” This puts the Church squarely at odds with climate change advocates such as Jeffrey Sachs (who incidentally attended a recent Vatican conference on climate change) who strongly pushed for population control as part of environmental development.

Indeed, Pope Francis was blunt to people that “view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited.” In other words, he was referring to activists who valued the trees and little snails more than human beings. Hence, “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.”

And as I wrote on June 12 in anticipation of the encyclical (“Climate change and of leaving science to the scientists”): “The Church’s mandate is with moral issues and moves with absolute sure footing when dealing in matters where the natural law and Scripture are clear: abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception. But to give specific empirical measures or remedies relating to the environment, inequality, poverty, immigration? That is better left to people with the established expertise for it.”

Such a point Pope Francis took time to make clear: “On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views.”

And this is the correct thought. Consensus among scientists is one thing, but to take such as truth is another. One commentator puts it this way: the Pope “has (just as we have) no guarantee of the soundness of the views of any scientist or group of scientists. A view that he adopts based on what a climate-change scientist or group of scientists -- be he or they believers (known to their critics as ‘alarmists’) or skeptics (known to their critics as ‘deniers’) -- say, could be wrong.” Note Laudato Si’s quite off comments on air-conditioning, for example.

Finally, there is Pope Francis’ express criticism of gender theory and transgenderism: “Valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek ‘to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.’”

The foregoing is no mere religious medievalism. The rationale here is that “the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development.”

All in all, Pope Francis shares nothing whatsoever with progressive environmental activists’ overriding faith in institutions, policies, or human activism but rather a continuation of and consistency with Church teaching: that to care for the environment is connected with respect for all that God created, whether it be in the new life that we see in children, the unborn, and the distinction between men and women.

Indeed, more than any pollutant or corruption, the “culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another.”

10.7.15

Why think when you can just feel?

was my Trade Tripper column in this 19-20 June issue of BusinessWorld:

It’s a scenario that’s become all too familiar and tiresome: “Have you ever had to deal with a female work colleague or family member who, just as the argument got interesting, turned on the tears? Immediately they win. It’s a not-too-subtle form of emotional blackmail. The tears shift the conversation away from reasoning and evidence and you have to stop and feel guilty and compassionate and find the Kleenex and ask if they’re okay and be caring. It’s a neat form of bullying. Most often it is not conscious or intentional, but it still works for all that.”

That was Fr. Dwight Longenecker, writing for Patheos (“The Dictatorship of Sentimentality,” 2012). Lest we get immediate shrieks of sexism, Longenecker immediately notes that “guys have their own emotional blackmail tricks,” usually in the form of rage.

It’s a real problem. Society now is not merely giving license to but actually encourages non-thinking, with emotion (and political correctness and “tolerance”) taking over reason. As Longenecker notes: “In a relativistic age, in which people have neither the skills or time to speak reasonably, sentimentality is used more and more within the political and religious debates.” Which is quite evident in our political discourse of today.

The media must take a lot of the blame for this. Take reality TV: the behavior exhibited by its so-called stars often verge on the bizarre: every little thing results in violent arguments, every opportunity (even the lack thereof) for sexual antics is publicly exhibited, every mundane (actually stupid) opinion is aired out at the highest possible volume. While such over-the-top behavior is understandable from the ratings perspective, it may (alas often does) sadly encourage (consciously or not) similar conduct from its fans.

Then, social media: with Facebook people get to live (at least online) the celebrity that they are in their minds. People who normally would have (and should have) no claim to fame (or even notoriety) have their lack of qualms unrestrained, displaying their faces and their most mundane activities on the Internet. Unread? Sloppy thinker? No familiarity with grammar? No problem. It’s their page and people shouldn’t be judgmental. Just be generous with the “likes.”

And all this is self-reinforcing. Memes flood the Internet with idiocies like “if you can’t accept me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”

Or the most mistakenly quoted, most taken out of context statement in the history of the universe: “Don’t judge.” Really. Anytime I hear those words spoken by adults, particularly in public places, I get physically sick.

Mark Judge (writing for the Daily Caller, “America has changed, but God hasn’t,” November 2012) was prescient, describing a country whose decline mirrors ours: “The truth is that America is now a leftist country. It’s Rachel Maddow and Jeremiah Wright’s country. You know that divorced fortysomething female neighbor of yours? The one who’s not half as bright as she thinks she is, and doesn’t know much about Libya or the national debt, but watches Katie Couric’s new show and just kind of didn’t like Romney because she, well, just kind of didn’t like him? America is now her country. It’s Dingbatville.”

Even in matters of faith, there are cafeteria Catholics who insist on their feelings (which they mislabel as “conscience”) rather than Church teachings. But as David Koyzis (“Liberalism and the Church,” First Things, June 2015) points out: “It is common these days to hear people claim to be spiritual but not religious. Mere spirituality leaves the ego in charge, and successful churches try their best to appeal to this ego. On the other hand, religion implies a certain binding (Latin: religare) of the person to a particular path of obedience not set by the person herself.”

And to repeat, this obsession with feelings is not harmless. It is actually hypocritical, with the unspoken objective of ruthlessly shutting down any opposing thought. As Fr. Longenecker accurately describes it: “This sentimental ‘sadness’ is used all the time as a smokescreen for anger. You can tell because as soon as you’re thrown off kilter by the sentimentalism, the gloves come off and the true rage that was beneath the surface kicks in.”

Indeed, by preventing discourse, rational discourse -- that is, composed of facts, reason and logic (as opposed to mere anecdotes and feelings) -- it damages all of us, our community, by preventing people from arriving at and appreciating truths, including how to properly discern and achieve the common good.

However, to clarify, J. Budziszewsk writes: “Feelings are not unimportant. They give charm and energy to our lives, and even the unpleasant and inconvenient ones provide us with information. The problem is that the charm is not self-evaluating, the energy is not self-directing, and the information is not self-interpreting.”

Although, I have to say, we can’t really blame people for indulging in madness if even our presidents, legislators, justices, or their sisters, act like lunatics themselves.

Climate change and of leaving science to the scientists

was my Trade Tripper column in the 12-13 June issue of BusinessWorld:

Last week saw social media filled with references to Pope Francis and his “master’s degree in chemistry.” The reason was Rick Santorum’s widely publicized interview in the The Dom Giordano Show where he urged the Catholic Church (and consequently Pope Francis) to “leave science to the scientists.” This resulted in the automatic smug assertions that Santorum is “stupid” for not knowing that Pope Francis is a scientist.

The only thing is: Rick Santorum was right. And you can bet Pope Francis agrees.

The trouble with discussions on climate change, particularly in today’s politically charged environment, is that nothing is what it seems. Nobody sane would want the environment destroyed. The problem, however, with the climate change debate is that it got exclusively framed on extremist beliefs, mostly of the so-called progressive Left, that the only way to do right by the environment is to hurt businesses. Some even want to completely shut down the commercial system as we know it.

Kevin O’Marah, writing for Forbes, puts it this way: “Some left-leaning liberals would just as soon outlaw fossil fuels, even at the risk of shutting down the whole system.” But “the likes of JosĂ© Lopez, global EVP of Operations of NestlĂ©, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Bonnie Nixon-Gardiner, formerly of Hewlett-Packard, reinforce my belief that most environmental regulation is just fine, especially for businesses that intend to be around for the long run. They level the playing field, reduce uncertainty in the supply chain, and focus attention on innovation, rather than cost cutting.”

Which makes sense. Because in order to implement environment-friendly measures, one needs money. Which either means that corporations have the funds to apply such environmental measures themselves or have enough income for the government to be able to collect taxes, which in turn the government can use to enforce environmental laws. But this can’t happen if progressives insist in demonizing business. It also makes quite ironic the Left’s hatred for the world’s best income-generating system: open economies.

Hence why Steve Moore, also writing for Forbes, was spot on: “What is the theological case for telling those in the poorest villages of the planet where people still live at subsistence levels, that they have a moral obligation to save the planet by staying poor and using less fossil fuels, less energy and electricity? Cheap and affordable electric power is the most basic antidote to fighting extreme poverty, disease, malnutrition, and human deprivation -- and should by celebrated by all humanitarians.”

“What the Pope should tell the world’s Catholics is this: if climate change is a threat, the best antidote is not to empower heavy-handed and incompetent command and control governments to try to combat it, but rather allow free people to employ their wealth, technology, ingenuity and creativity -- to find ways to head off catastrophe. If, God forbid, the United Nations or Greenpeace is to be our salvation, then we are doomed.”

Unfortunately, a huge amount of confusion is laid out by the media as to Pope Francis’ actual authority. But as George Weigel puts it, “Popes... are not authoritarian figures, who teach what they will and as they will. The Pope is the guardian of an authoritative tradition, of which he is the servant, not the master.”

As for “the environment and the poor, Catholic social doctrine has long taught that we are stewards of creation and that the least of the Lord’s brethren have a moral claim on our solidarity and our charity; the social doctrine leaves open to debate the specific, practical means by which people of good will, and governments, exercise that stewardship, and that solidarity and charity.”

In short, the Church’s mandate is with moral issues and moves with absolute sure footing when dealing in matters where the natural law and Scripture are clear: abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception. But to give specific empirical measures or remedies relating to the environment, inequality, poverty, immigration? That is better left to people with the established expertise for it.

In fact, it was quite laughable that almost at the same period when progressives were building up the Pope’s scientific credentials to speak on the environment, there came a thunderous silence when he then spoke on gender identity issues, declaring that “gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion.”

Those seeking to spin for narrow ideological gains Pope Francis’ upcoming statements on the environment are thus forced to confront his declarations on traditional marriage and the family. Which, of course, they can’t accept, and thus the blindingly obvious inconsistency.

Besides, Pope Francis does not have a master’s degree in chemistry. As his own official biography points out, he was “a chemical technician.” But what he does have are degrees in philosophy and theology.

9.6.15

Philippine trade with US and China

was my Trade Tripper column in the 5-6 June 2015 issue of BusinessWorld:

While everybody is fixated on United States and China movements in relation to the Pacific, another set of maneuverings is happening practically unnoticed by most, and that is in the area of trade. And the effects of these could be equally significant in the longer run. It also would be a good opportunity to determine Philippine strategic thinking on such issue, particularly if there is an effective inculcation of the truism that foreign relations is but an extension of domestic policy.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an expanded version of the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and currently includes as parties Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. The TPP is said to expand provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement that favor US domestic industries, as well as borrowing heavily from the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) template.

The TPP, however, is not without further controversy: the negotiations have been so secretive that many in the US complain about being in the dark regarding its contents. Zero Hedge, one of the more colorful financial blogs available online, had this interesting May 22 article en route to President Obama’s getting Trade Promotion Authority for the TPP: “While the actual contents of the TPP may be highly confidential, and their public dissemination may lead to prison time for the ‘perpetrator’ of such illegal transparency, we now know just how much it cost corporations to bribe the Senate to do the bidding of the ‘people.’ In the Supreme Court sense, of course, in which corporations are ‘people.’”

Hence, “using data from the Federal Election Commission... shows all donations that corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being debated in the Senate. The result: it took a paltry $1.15 million in bribes to get everyone in the Senate on the same page.”

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), on the other hand, is between the ASEAN members (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) and Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. It was seen as combining two prior trade proposals: the East Asian Free Trade Agreement (that had ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea) and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership (same lineup as EAFTA but with the addition of Australia, India and New Zealand). Like the TPP, it is seen to be an FTA of high standards and comprehensiveness, including provisions that make for deeper integration between the parties.

A meeting at the ministerial level is supposed to take place in July in Kuala Lumpur, with discussions ranging from goods, services and investments, all with an eye to concluding the RCEP by 2015.

However, as East Asia Forum’s Sanchita Basu Das (“Is RCEP just the same old trade paradigm?”, Dec. 6, 2014) points out: “The RCEP agreement is plagued by the fact that participating countries are at different stages of development. Concerns have been raised that any kind of deeper economic integration could lead to huge social costs incurred by the less developed member economies. This could be due to structural adjustments and the risks of falling into a low-cost labor trap, where there is little incentive for domestic industries to move up the value chain.”

The point is that a fundamental change in thinking about economic and trade policy is sorely needed. Unfortunately, our response to international trade seems to be stuck in the 1990s. We fail to realize, as William H. Overholt ably pointed out, that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the World Trade Organization “were devised for a simpler era, when it was possible to think about world trade in the way Ricardo taught -- namely that a good is produced in one country and consumed also in a single country.” However, “by the last decade of the 20th century, production had become a complex global process. The logic of increasing efficiency by reducing trade barriers remained completely valid, but policy adaptation of that logic to a new era has faltered.”

This inability to recognize how trade evolved also feeds our continuing incapacity to measure it properly. An idea of this can be taken from Stephen Grenville: “Perhaps the most fundamental change in international trade in recent decades has been the development of multinational ‘supply chains.’ The production process has been ‘unbundled,’ with different stages of production taking place in different countries.”

Aside from the US-China dynamic, the complexities brought up don’t even approximate the intricate effects that global finance has on trade. As well as the forgotten area of culture.

Though your friendly neighborhood Trade Tripper still believes in multilateralism, nevertheless, the Philippines needs to wake up to realities and muster capabilities for greater degrees of calculation.

It would be useful therefore knowing what our presidential aspirants’ (and their possible economic teams) thinking on the matter.

30.5.15

Three articles on divorce

For easy reference, here are the links for the three articles on divorce previously published in my Trade Tripper column in BusinessWorld:

> Divorce means freedom? Not really. Nor is it free.
> Divorce is just a bad idea.
> Divorce and the progressive ambition to destroy the family

Now is not the time to rush a competition law

was my Trade Tripper column in the 22-23 May 2015 weekend issue of BusinessWorld:

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed on third reading House Bill No. 5286 (or the substitute bill on the Philippine Competition Act). Speaking to reporters, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte had been quoted as saying, “We hope this will become a law in this Congress, it will be for the benefit of Filipinos. It’s a [piece of] legislation that is very much needed.” This column vehemently disagrees: a Philippine competition law is not urgently needed. And even if passed, the law as currently constructed will hardly deliver the benefits its advocates insistently promise to our citizens.

The logic of the Philippine Competition Act seems to be is that to further regulate the market will set it free. Which is irony at its best. We know from trade policy history that regulation generally never benefits consumers, usually resulting in protectionism harmful to the economy. And we know that monopolies are created precisely because of regulations: that such regulations before had to do with tariff barriers and subsidies and now identified as monitoring and review really is of no difference.

Besides, the point of the Philippine Competition Act is to “prevent economic concentration, which will control the production, distribution, trade or industry that unduly stifle competition, distort, manipulate or constrict the discipline of free markets.” However, by any international standard, this is not the urgent problem of the Philippines.

We must consider that, competition-wise, we are not as ramshackle as others would have us believe. The Global Competitiveness Index gave us good marks for “intensity of local competition” (61), “effectiveness of anti-monopoly policy” (72), “prevalence of trade barriers” (51), and “prevalence of foreign ownership” (51).

Under the 2015 Economic Freedom Index, the Philippines has reasonably high marks, being categorized as “moderately free” but charting “an upward trajectory of economic freedom for the past five years.”

The Philippines ranks high (60 out of 186) in “investment freedom,” described as where there are “no constraints on the flow of investment capital.” In trade freedom” (the “composite measure of the absence of tariff and non-tariff barriers that affect imports and exports of goods and services”), the Philippines ranks a good 75.4.

Instead, the Economic Freedom Index points as problems areas such as “corruption” and an “inefficient judiciary.” And this column has pointed to areas such as low productivity, high unemployment, red tape and the bureaucratic difficulties in doing business, energy and transport costs, smuggling, traffic, and increasing teenage pregnancy and marriage annulment rates.

In short, the real fundamental economic problems that the Philippine economy faces will not be, can never be, addressed by the present Philippine Competition Act.

However, even limiting the discussion to the area that the Philippine Competition Act ostensibly seeks to resolve (i.e., monopolies and cartels) yields quite unconvincing conclusions.

The Philippine Competition Act works on this quite simplistic assumption: monopolies are bad and government is the solution. But note, not even our Constitution sees monopolies in such light: the “State shall regulate or prohibit monopolies when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition shall be allowed.”

But as Lisa Campbell, senior deputy commissioner of the Canadian Competition Bureau, remarked (during the Fifth Annual International Antitrust Forum last year): “The size of a business, even one that dominates a particular market, is not in and of itself, a cause for concern. Businesses may need to become large to achieve lower production costs or to compete against foreign and domestic competitors.”

Indeed, the size of our market should lead us to appreciate the idea of “natural monopolies,” whereby maximum efficiency is derived by way of economies of scale through one or two suppliers.

As such, Filipinos should be supportive of even larger Filipino conglomerates. Take San Miguel Corp. (or PLDT or PAL), for example, which, despite its size and reach, could not really be considered possessing monopoly power due to the nature and threat presented by global (or regional) competition.

In reality, a Philippine Competition Act is far from being a necessity, at least for the present. With the many laws that we have now, the best anti-monopolization measure we can rely on is for the government to strictly enforce the rule of law. That is clearly better than adding a further layer of bureaucracy and further strain on the governmental budget.

Instead, as I have long suggested, if we must have a competition law, then let it include provisions that addresses the possibility of foreign corporations sneaking up in acquiring Filipino companies or influence to the point that monopoly powers are exercised from beyond Philippine jurisdiction, constricting Filipino entrepreneurial efforts, and damaging local consumer interests. And let us explore more vigorously the idea of implementing the “effects” doctrine as a manner of acquiring jurisdiction over those who seek to damage Philippine economic interests from abroad.

All in all, there’s really no harm if we take more time to craft a really effective competition law.