Oct 15, 2012

Philippines - Philexport pushes readiness plan for Asean economic integration

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The targeted economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by 2015 is drawing near and Philippine businesses should be preparing strategies to deal with growing competition and capture a large share of regional investments, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) said, citing experts.

Philexport said local economic sectors must study their competitive advantages, citing advice from Jay Yuvallos, a member of the Asean Business Advisory Council. Yuvallos said the Philippines must use criteria such as population, competent workforce, business infrastructure and supply chain efficiency to complement other Asean countries to “effectively” capture regional investments.

Foreign direct investments in the Asean region, the world’s ninth-largest economy when taken as a bloc, may have reached nearly $70 billion in 2010, according to estimates.

Asean’s planned economic integration also provides opportunities to businesses wanting to capture more foreign markets.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), in its 13-point resolution submitted to the President on the last day of the 38th Philippine Business Conference, urged the Department of Trade and Industry to undertake comprehensive awareness and readiness programs to educate and prepare entrepreneurs for the Asean economic integration by 2015.

The country’s largest business organization also asked the department to help the private sector develop road maps for strategic industries that would enable them to address the challenges of greater competition and liberalization.

Simultaneously, Philexport declared that the Philippines “will finally have a comprehensive industrialization strategy by next year.”

Citing a presentation from Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr., Philexport said 50 industry groups were now drawing up their respective industry road maps. The various plans will be consolidated by the industry leaders and the DTI toward the end of 2012 or early 2013. A comprehensive industrialization strategy for the Philippines would later be submitted to President Aquino for approval.

With the national industrialization strategy, it is hoped that the Philippines will be a seller and not just a consumer of goods and services. The Philippines is a net importer of goods, including food products, and has a ballooning trade deficit, Philexport said.

Asian Development Bank vice president Lakshmi Venkatachalamm has said a strong industrial sector is “the missing link” in the country’s development strategy.

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