Updated: 9:47 AM | 24 August 2022
The first installment of the 2022 EconSecurity Talks titled Understanding Economic Security As A Pillar of Foreign Policy was launched on Friday, 19 August 2022 at 10:00 am (Philippine Standard Time) via Zoom. Featured speakers were Assec. Eric Gerardo Tamayo, Assistant Secretary for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Philippines; Atty. Allan Gepty, Assistant Secretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Group from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Philippines; Dr. Vinzenz Huzel, Resident Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Philippines; Amb. Laura Q. Del Rosario, Foundation for the National Interest (FNI).
The EconSecurity Talks webinar, the first in the 2022 series, explores the role of Economic Security in Foreign Policy. Under the current state of our globalized economy, it is crucial to understand how the Philippines can secure its economy and trade amidst developing issues such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical tension, climate change and more.
Dr. Vinzenz Huzel, FES country representative, opened the webinar by looking back at the events of the past three years in which, the world experienced disruptive phenomena such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia war, and the effects of climate change emphasizing that these current issues have only exposed the fragility of our globalized economy. To address this, Dr. Huzel stressed the need for countries to work together to find ways to address these challenges sustainably.
“There has to be a balance in the economy, ecology, and social affairs based on peace and security,” Dr. Huzel stated. “Focus on creating a sustainable economic policy—not only to focus on pure growth but to take into consideration the protection of natural resources and the needs of the citizens”. He then stressed that “Economic Security goes hand in hand with ecological security and social security”.
Assistant Secretary Eric Gerardo Tamayo, the keynote speaker, revolved his discussion based on the Philippines’ Economic Foreign Policy and framed it into the 3C’s.
Constantly and consistently an instrument to pursue national interest.
Mr. Tamayo stated that the core of the economic national interest of developing countries such as the Philippines is to fulfill the economic security of its people, this would entail securing their livelihoods, welfare and enhancing their quality of life.
Changing according to contexts and challenges.
He further emphasized that economic security operations lie in foreign policy that is continuously evolving that is shaped both by what is happening externally and the country’s current domestic realities. Additionally, he mentioned the current new realities which are rapid progress of technology and digitalization and explained that although they enhance productivity, he shared potential harms such as displacement of workers, obsoletion of tasks, skills and other occupations and professions which will affect countries like the Philippines.
Complex and multidimensional.
Mr. Tamayo explained that geopolitical tensions, rising protectionism, economic nationalism, rapid technological changes, progress in the digital economy, environmental risk and social challenges, as well as the widening global income gap are some factors that add complexity for developing countries such as the Philippines to move up the higher-middle income ladder. He stressed that the Philippines should be more responsive to global economic and systemic risk and encouraged to strengthen its domestic robustness and resilience:
“Economic Security is an end goal considering the current and intended state of the economy and the economic affairs of the country, and the new admin will be expected to utilize all tools at its disposal to promote consumption, raise productivity, increase investments and spend for infrastructure and work towards increasing export and balance in terms of trade” .
As a reactor, DTI Assistant Secretary Allan Gepty emphasized the role of economic security as the basic pillar of international peace and security. He reiterated that “economic security is about resources, resilience and robustness”. Additionally, Mr. Gepty explained that with the Philippines positively leaning towards globalization, it is important for the state organs to be integrated into the world economy. He added that the big challenge is the battle towards economic supremacy among big economies which is aggravated by the fast growing economic environment brought by non-traditional challenges such as climate change. He suggested that the Philippines should enhance its relationship with the country’s traditional and non-traditional trading partners and believes that there are a lot of opportunities to expand the country's trading and economic ties. Mr. Gepty also noted that in addition to initiating and participating in bilateral, regional and multilateral trade, it is also important for the Philippines to invest in human resource development. He recommended the Philippines to position itself as a country that serves as an innovation hub, center for training and education, and research and development.
During the open forum, a diverse set of questions were sent to the two speakers which shows the interest of the participants on the topic presented. Questions given covered subject matters such as 1) protectionism and its effect on supply of goods, 2) the role of the Bretton Woods III in globalization and trade, 3) impact of geopolitical tensions on the Philippines, 4) the Philippine Government's stance on the US' Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and 5) the balance of economic liberalization and regulation.
Closing the event, Ambassador Laura Q. Del Rosario spoke of her anticipations to more discussions on the expansion of Filipino markets. Amb. Del Rosario remarked that it is “very comforting to know that our government is doing well and that all our officials are doing their best to make sure that our economic security is strong and whatever shocks that happen in our regional environment, we will continue to grow and be strong” .
A total of one hundred and thirteen people (113) attended this webinar event. Participants came from a diverse array of sectors including students, the diplomatic corps, government officials, defense and security personnel and non-governmental organizations.
Stay tuned for upcoming webinars under the 2022 EconSecurity Talks series in the coming months:
September: Assessment of the Belt and Road Initiative of China in the Philippines and Southeast Asia
October: Barriers and Opportunities in the Blue Economy
November: Strategic Partnerships for the Digital Economy
Screenshots of the event below.