Primacy of manufacturing


Hector RR Villanueva

“Government, geography and growth: the true drivers of economic development.” – Jeffrey Sachs

What is so surprising about Vietnam overtaking the Philippines in economic development?

Haven’t Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia done the same, and earlier South Korea and Taiwan?

And, if the Philippines does not shape up, maybe Myanmar and Cambodia may also overtake this country in economic development.

It is probable that the Philippines will be consigned perpetually as a lower income group economy category with consumer driver economic growth and wholly import dependent economy resulting in stunted growth rate.

This is a pathetic picture which can be overturned and overcome.

However, the country has to restructure and radically transform.

The key to sustainable growth lies in the primacy of a modest but solid manufacturing capability.

With abundant natural resources, large and literate population, benign climate, skilled manpower, and Ivy League leaders, why can’t the Philippines, at the very least, be at par with its neighbors?

For starters, prominent political leaders tend to look the other way or procrastinate when confronted with painful decisions, such as, constitutional reforms, death penalty, population management, congressional reforms, WPS, insurgency, and urgent economic reforms.

Second, there is an apparent frenzy and haste by the tech conglomerates to push rapid digitalization, online transactions, and all kinds of gadgetry on an unprepared and economically deprived population barely eking out subsistence living.

The truth of the matter is that the Philippines has no substantial manufacturing industry to produce the most basic and low-tech products.

It is premature to push for universal digitalization and technology, and imported gadgets when none are produced locally at affordable prices and availability.

Truth to tell, the Philippines, for all intents and purchases, has no respectable manufacturing industry.

It has no plastic industry and computer industry to manufacture these products locally at affordable prices for a large and youthful population.

It has no modest iron and steel mills or integrated circuit capability and quality control reputation.

In other words, to escape from being wholly import dependent on nearly everything, the county needs to own manufacturing capacity even if the technologies are initially copied, imported, modified, re-engineered to suit local requirements.

It is inconceivable that this God-favored country cannot rise to the challenges of economic development with corrupt free nationalistic leaders and political reforms.

You be the judge.