AWARENESS on the Asean Economic Convergence (AEC) that will take effect in 2015 remains low, an agribusiness executive said.

Former Davao City councilor Peter T. Lavina, president of Davao San Francisco Agri-Ventures who spoke during the 3rd National Conference of the Independent Business Clubs at the Marco Polo Hotel on Thursday, said there is still a need to inform the public and even the business sector about the upcoming Asean integration.

“For example, when I asked early this year the committee on international relations of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce on how many are aware of the AEC, I was surprised that 85 percent have no awareness or updates about the integration,” Lavina said.

Other sectors that also need to be informed on the AEC are the schools and universities wherein, based on his projection, some 50 percent are not aware of the integration.

National Competitive Council (NCC) of the Philippines private sector co-chair Guillermo M. Luz, for his part, said some local government units are also not yet aware of the AEC.

He said there is a need to push for people to people (P2P) relations in all levels to make the public and the business sector aware about the integration.

“We should think that those people will be our consumers later but if we do not know or have relation with these people we will be unable to take advantage of the market,” Lavina said.

He said there is still a long way to go for the AEC and it is important that as early as now, there are P2Ps among different groups. He suggested that the business community may start linking up with different concerned organizations in a bid to increase awareness among the public and the business sector on the AEC.

In response, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) acting vice president for development studies Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba said during the open forum they are doing information drive on the impact of the AEC to the country.

She said that they did an information campaign in Makati City on AEC and last November 6, they did another one in Cebu with the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda). For, Davao they are eyeing to have an information drive around January next year.

Luz said they are also doing massive information drives around the country. Last Wednesday, they held the NCC Philippines Roadshow at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Daniel T. Lim, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, said the leaders of the business organizations should be clear as to what steps or options they can give to their members in becoming aware of the integration and getting ready for it.

“Whether the members know about AEC, it will be up to these companies to become creative in surviving the integration,” he said.

Lim also said that among their members, most of those aware of the AEC are the big companies who are now collaborating and getting themselves ready for the integration. –Reuel John F. Lumawag, Sun Star