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Change our game! 2021, New deck of cards

Summary:
> Philippines achieved the rank in the top 10 most financially well-managed countries in the world with a debt to GDP ratio of 45%.
> The Build, Build, Build program will allow spreading residences and commerce throughout the country.
> Philippines’ financial standing served us well in our ability to borrow to help in this Covid recession.

Change our game! 2021, New deck of cards
George Siy
January 3, 2021

P200,000 micro e-cars outsell Tesla, gives PH a lesson.

Events show directions the world is headed; Wake Up Philippines!

The European Union, in a major move, acted independently of the United States. The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) was signed by Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron a few days ago despite US attempts to block it. The agreement added market accesses in China and moved toward removal of quantitative restrictions, equity caps and joint venture requirements in finance, manufacturing, research, computer and app services, and others.

The battle of electric vehicles between the United States and China: Alfred Sloan (left), founder of P200,000-mini electric car, and Elon Musk of Tesla. COLLAGE BY IDSI

US companies compete and also win big in China. General Motors last year sold over 3 million cars in China; Volkswagen sold over 4 million vehicles, totaling over $55 billion, making $3.8 billion in the third quarter alone (after losing money due to Covid-19 in the first two quarters). Tesla electric vehicle (EV) sales boomed in China, surging to No. 1 in EVs within a few months in 2020. China is expected to become 40 percent of Tesla sales by early 2022 (Wedbush Securities).

In the fourth quarter last year, the US-China joint venture between General Motors and Wuling, SAIC, started selling a P200,000 ($4,000)-micro e-vehicle good for four passengers in the last quarter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ytqr8T05OU).  The sales of the EV counter-surged and became number 1, beating the Tesla model 3 in number of units sold three months in a row.  Both companies are expected to make good profits.  And this while BYD and Nio will enter the battle soon, just as Apple will, and Tesla is planning to double Shanghai capacity.  Whatever their government disputes, world class companies join forces with Chinese companies for innovative designs and markets.  This shows also that there is robust competition in China, massive profits are being made by foreign companies that the US and Trump are not counting in the deficit, and that simultaneous cooperation-competition is burgeoning in Asia and the world. These while the Philippines’ national attention and bashers are focused on successive weeks of useless arguments by some misinformed politicians, “expert-critics”.

The Malaysia-Singapore high speed rail, or HSR, project was terminated when agreement couldn’t be reached on new terms being proposed on a 2016 deal.  The project would have cut travel between Kuala Lumpur from 4 hours by car to 90 minutes.  Both agreed on continued good relations and coverage of each side’s prior obligations, and an orderly withdrawal.

Japan’s maglev is being built already between Tokyo and Nagoya for 500 kph, cutting travel from 1 hour and 32 minutes to 40 minutes.  China has just launched its automated upload/download of cabinet-sized containers using 300-kph rail delivery, as well as started installation of its automatic rail-gauge-changing equipment on intercontinental rail cars — an engineering solution for the differing standards among rails passing thru different countries, aside from implementing the use of unmanned rail cars. This has cut the time of intercontinental deliveries.

Per United Nations, 126 countries pledged to reach net zero emissions. The US, largest per capita emitter in the world, has not followed.  While China is the largest total emitter, “China now leads global race to eliminate CO2 emissions,” per Asia Times. “China’s share of global electricity generated by solar power jumped from 2 percent in 2010 to 32 percent by 2018…,” including a 67 square mile plant producing 2 gigawatts.  China’s President Xi Jinping targets 2060 to achieve carbon neutral and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledges Japan to become carbon neutral by 2050.  Environment is clearly a global agenda now.

Philippines in 2020?   

Early in the year, the Philippines achieved the rank in the top 10 most financially well managed countries in the world with a debt to GDP ratio of 45 percent, better than the US or China at approximately 245 percent each, and we could borrow at the lowest rates in the international markets.  We had the second highest expected GDP growth rate in Asia, the highest in Asean.  The Build, Build, Build program was in full swing, BPOs were growing and POGOs were controversial but spending close to P100 billion a year, tourism was booming, unemployment and inflation were low.

Biblical calamities then hit us in succession: Taal, Covid-19, Super Typhoon “Rolly” and Typhoon “Ulysses”.  Those were acts of nature, a message.  It seems though we could create trouble for ourselves pretty well.

There is much criticism about the way the Covid lockdowns and testings were organized by the Department of Health, while the private sector, China organizations and Chinoys came in to assist in the billions through direct assistance, incomes supplements, rent and contract adjustments, among other assistance. The poor protection and supplies for our health workers sacrificed many of them unnecessarily, though we did eventually manage to control mortality; questionable disbursements of ayuda occurred but reach to recipients improved later.  The Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s P15-billion scandal broke out.

A dolomite beach was the output of intense meditations of some of our officials.  Poorly functioning payment systems in the toll ways caused bottlenecks and a spat in Bulacan.

Staged testing is a standard procedure worldwide that Filipinos by tradition refuse to be aware of, but, in any case, the integrations are being applied already.

Megawide’s renovation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was revoked after being awarded, possibly because it successfully finished both Mactan and Clark airports ahead of time.  The bids should not have been accepted and the company made to jump over hoops in the first place.  Did we expect better?  Well, it wasn’t as bad as the 15-year $400-million Fraport battle (finally settled under President Duterte), or the Asia’s Emerging Dragons from the time of President Fidel Ramos that failed to emerge.

Vietnam surpassed the Philippines in per capita GDP.  We used to laugh at Japan’s “Mickey Mouse money,” at Taiwan’s shoddy goods, at China, at Vietnam.  To be optimistic, there are still countries left we can laugh at — ourselves?

You haven’t had a heart attack yet?  Read on!

This last year the Philippines was confirmed again as having the lowest Math and Science results of all the countries in the 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) exams, lower in rank even than our last participation in 2003!  This is quantitative proof that the K to 12 started under President Benigno Aquino 3rd; digital accesses, larger budgets and more classrooms apparently had no positive overall impact.

Only 1 percent of our students achieved the high benchmark category of both science and math!  How can we have so many opinion-makers then?!  We can still be world champions in the Happiness Index.

Or we can work at improving, instead of making more critiques and listening to think tanks, blowhards, and literary writers who have no record of success.  Praising ourselves, blaming others, more than 8 hours in social media for another decade is not a viable way to prepare for the age of information and robotics.

The year’s beginning with a good country financial standing served us well in our ability to borrow to help in this Covid recession, although the implementations of disbursements could have been better, and there are debates that much more should have been spent.

The Build, Build, Build program at least put us on the way to catching up in infrastructure and that will allow spreading residences and commerce throughout the country under the “new normal”.  The new SMC Skyway cut travel from Makati to the NLEx or North Luzon Expressway from 1.5 hours to 15 minutes, already immediately exciting many entrepreneurs to possibilities of new branches, cross-markets, investments, tourism; and the drive to improve internet access are steps in the right direction.

We had time to rethink, to spend with our families, to start on digital adoptions if we hadn’t done it before. We have had several blaring wake up calls, let’s reduce debating and start the engineering of our country.

RSVP first webinar in 2021! Ideas for Filipinos to link up and capitalize amid global developments? Quo Vadis? Untold Stories in PH-CH Economic Relations bit.ly/2021phch


George Siy is a Wharton-educated industrialist, international trade practitioner and negotiator, director of the Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI). He has advised the Philippines and various organizations in trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan and the United States.

New Worlds by IDSI aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (idsicenter@gmail.com).

**Also published in: https://www.manilatimes.net/2021/01/03/opinion/columnists/change-our-game-2021-new-deck-of-cards/821633/

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