Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Thoughts in 2006, an AFMF

In early November  2006, I suggested to some Asian free market friends the formation of an Asian Free Marketers Alliance (AFMA), or an Asian Free Market Forum (AFMF). These were my thoughts then. This image I got from a WSJ graphics, "the United States of Trade."

The statists, politicians and bureaucrats in our continent and the rest of the world have their own formal alliances or associations, why can't free marketer groups and institutes form their own, especially in our continent?

Groups like APEC, ASEAN (now ASEAN + 6), ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), blocs within WTO, UN, etc., they have annual or bi-annual meetings. The politicians are spending our tax money for their expensive summit and meetings, and they decide how much trade and economic liberalization they can give or deny us.

So, why don't we form our own alliance? A formal alliance? Currently we are loosely connected through Atlas' Asian Liberty Forum, or some regional and international conferences and meetings where we bump onto each other.

If this is ok with you, here's what I have in my mind:

1) It will mainly be an alliance of organizations or institutes; for individuals who do not represent a free-marketer institute, we'll discuss their status of membership

2) it will have a board, and rotating presidency (say 1 term for a year).

3) contribution from each institute, or we'll ask "foreign aid" from Atlas or FNF or other big foundations to support a very lean regional secretariat office.

4) main activities: launch few and limited but coordinated political campaigns. for instance:
i) a coordinated campaign to pressure Asian governments and trade negotiators in the WTO for some unilateral trade liberalization.
ii) humanitarian campaign against persecuted free marketer individuals anywhere in Asia.

My friend from Delhi, Parth Shah, agreed. He said that "it's an idea worth serious thinking.  The World Social Forum (WSF) is hosting an India Social Forum this month in Delhi.  So they have WSF, the crony capitalists have the WEF, we need to start a World Liberal Forum!  Let it start from Asia and then spread to the rest of the world.”

One reason why I have thought of this is because the Philippines will host the 12th ASEAN summit this coming December. It is now regularly called "ASEAN + 6" summit – the 10 members of ASEAN + China, Japan, s. Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand.

And those summits are never cheap. They cost taxpayers of the host countries several million $ for their two-days summit, plus several days Ministerial summit on certain issues.

So I thought there is a need for a more coordinated alliance of free marketer guys and institutes from our continent, to issue at least 1 or 2 position papers, say on international trade and taxes (or migration, health, environment, etc.), that we shall raise during the ASEAN + 8 summit next month. We can disseminate our position papers to media, not only in the Phils. but in your respective countries as well.

No rallies and demos, only making our presence known and felt. No "parallel summit" either because that will be very costly too. Let the annual Atlas' Asian meeting and FNF's EFN conferences be our
loud "Asian Liberty Forum", which can possibly evolve to a "World Liberty Forum" -- in contrast with the various fora by the statists and politicians -- UN, WB-IMF joint meeting, APEC, WEF, WSF, and many others.

Again, these were my thoughts in November 2006. We were not able to push it though. Just posting them here to retrace my thoughts more than a decade ago.

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