DTI: Grow MSMEs in the regions to benefit from AEC and global trade

Naga City – At the Industry Roadmaps and ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Gameplan: Roadmap Localization for Competitiveness conference held in this city today (12 November 2015), the Department of Trade and Industry highlighted the collaboration of various agencies to support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to sustain economic growth of the country.

“With the AEC and our strengthened positioning in Europe, both public and private sectors working together will enable our MSMEs to participate in the global value chain, generate quality jobs, and ensure growth particularly in the regions,”DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba said.

The AEC aims to transform the ASEAN region into a single market and production base, with free flow of goods, services, investments, and capital. The ASEAN market is a combined market of 600 million. To date, 98.6% of goods are traded among ASEAN member countries at zero tariff. The Philippines also currently benefits from the EU-GSP+ which grants duty-free access to more than 6,000 products exported to EU.

“We are making good progress in collectively addressing the opportunities AEC presents as well as the challenges industry faces to fully comply with AEC targets. Initiatives are also in place to prepare our industries to take advantage of the EU GSP+,” Aldaba added.

To support local industries, DTI facilitated collaborations between private and public sectors to craft and implement sectoral industry roadmaps. To date, there are thirty five (35) industry roadmaps submitted to the BOI which include aerospace, automotive and automotive parts, manufacturing, metal casting, among other. An industry roadmap defines the vision, goals, and targets of the sector, identifies binding constraints to its growth, and recommends strategies for industry upgrading and development.

“For the Bicol region to grow, our role in government is tofacilitate an enabling environment for MSMEs and industries to move up the value chain. For example, we have established Shared Service Facilities to support product development in the region,” said DTI Region 5 Director Joy Blanco.

Shared service facilities (SSFs) aim to improve the competitiveness of MSMEs by providing them with machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system. DTI engages with local, national, and international organizations to support SSFs in the regions. As of 2014, Region 5 has ten (10) shared service facilities (SSFs) for coco coir benefitting coconut farmer cooperatives.

Bicol region’s economy is basically agricultural with nearly 40 percent of its workforce dependent on coconut, palay, cassava, corn, abaca, and coconut. The region is also fast becoming a prime tourist destination and known for its processed foods such as pili nuts and canned or bottled food products such as Laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) and Bicol express (chili and shrimp cooked in coconut milk).

“Learning more about how the global economy operates will help us develop more value added products to support our regional economy and address employment issues. For example, our pili oil is now being used as an ingredient for lipsticks. Innovation is key to taking advantage of global market opportunities,” Blanco added.

DTI has conducted the industry roadmap localization conferences in key cities in the country including Iloilo, Cebu, Davao, Baguio, Tagaytay, and Palawan. A Global Value Chain Conference to gather regional stakeholders is scheduled later in the month to move forward learnings from the series of localization conferences.