The single, integrated economic community of ASEAN countries that is intended to be come into being in 2015 will pose a great challenge both for the Balinese and other residents of the island, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika stated on Sunday.
Speaking in front of hundreds of students from Udayana University’s School of Medicine, Pastika warned the future physicians about the challenges that the liberalization of the ASEAN labor market would throw in their direction.
“If you cannot face and overcome those challenges then surely you will be defeated, and marginalized.”
ASEAN is attempting to achieve comprehensive regional economic integration through its economic community scheme, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015. As envisioned by the AEC 2015 blueprint, the community will be supported by four pillars: A single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region with equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the global economy.
The establishment of the community is the continuation of earlier efforts made through the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) started in 1992. Through the free trade pact, 99.11 percent of tariffs in ASEAN-6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) have already been lifted since 2010, while 98.86 percent of tariffs in ASEAN-4 (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) have been reduced to
between 0 and 5 percent.
The economic community will include the free flow of goods (trade integration), the free flow of capital (investment integration), service sector liberalization, and the free flow of people.
“Once the single economic community has commenced, many doctors from ASEAN countries could flood Bali, including doctors from Singapore or those Malaysian students that studied in Udayana University. It is a probable scenario. Therefore, all of you should be preparing everything from now. Improving your capability and quality,” Pastika reminded them.
As an international tourist destination, he added, Bali would become a big market for foreign products and workers.
“We should be able to take advantage of this trade liberalization, rather than falling victim to it.”
“Within the next two years, we will face tighter competition. We only have two years to prepare ourselves,” Pastika said.
Udayana University was urged to work hard to prepare its students to face the implementation of AEC 2015.
“All of you should be a champion, and not a loser, therefore this university must equip you with top-quality knowledge, skills and capacity.”
Pastika pointed out that AEC 2015 would not only affect medical professionals, but also those who work in other fields.
“The implementation of AEC 2015 will see workers and skilled professionals from various fields relocate to Bali for better job opportunities. The government cannot and will not stop this flow since the establishment of the economic community has been agreed upon by all ASEAN member states.”
Pastika envisioned that a large number of Filipino workers would take jobs as taxi drivers and would be recognized among tourists as the island’s best drivers due to their English proficiency and excellent personal grooming.
“So, we must prepare seriously, let’s improve our skills.”
Udayana University’s deputy rector, I Gede Putu Wirawan, said that the university had prepared students to face the hard competition once AEC came into force.
”We are working hard to improve our student’s skills and capabilities. Seminars and many other forums held by the university are part of our attempts to improve their quality,” he said.
Another attempt was improving student’s skills in speaking foreign languages, particularly English. Udayana University, he said, required students to score 400 in the TOEFL examination to graduate.
“Our alumni are ready to compete with workers from other ASEAN countries,” he stressed.
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