FLAWED and disorganized policies in dealing with trade liberalization may have landed the Philippines at its current place as one of the region’s growth laggards in the trade arena, according to speakers at a recent trade policy forum.

The forum brought together industry, legal and government representatives to discuss the economic ramifications behind the country’s trade liberalization policy, which held the promise of millions of new jobs, a stronger export and industrial sector, and a lessened scourge of poverty.

This, said Dr. Rene Ofreneo, executive director of the Fair Trade Alliance, did not come to pass, and, in many cases, resulted in the reverse, as it was flawed from the beginning.

Instead of having any national competitiveness plan to implement liberalization, only a trade liberalization program was adopted.

“They [policymakers] were obsessed with liberalization just for liberalization’s sake,” he told the forum, organized by the Action for Economic Reforms, Ideals and the BusinessMirror.

He described as “naïve and narrow” the approach taken by the architects of this program, saying they just expected foreign investments to “flow into the country” after complying with liberalization standards. Read on (in. pdf).