Lower goal of $122 B in 2022 ‘doable’
The Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) is currently under review whether or not the country’s export target, even the lower end-target of $122 billion in 2022, is still doable given the continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman in his opening remarks at the National Export Congress (NEC) 2020: Digitalization Boost: Invigorating Exports in the New Normal revealed the ongoing assessment being done by the Council.
“Currently, we are reviewing and assessing the PEDP’s strategies indicators and export targets to see if such are still doable or not and continue to be optimistic that we will be able to still achieve even the low-end target of $122B in 2022,” said Macatoman.
The PEDP has set an export growth level of $122 billion-$133 billion by 2022. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic slowdown, Philippine exporters are experiencing difficulties. The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. also confirmed the ongoing review of the target and is awaiting confirmation by the Export Development Council.
In his keynote at the same event, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez pointed out that the PEDP 2018-2022 is not only being implemented but has undergone periodic review. “As such, we’ve proposed revisions aligned with the pandemic effects and impact to our economy,” he said.
The country’s merchandise exports rebounded strongly in September, registering a positive 2.2 percent increase from the revised double-digit negative growth rate of 12.8 percent in August. This was the first time the growth rate crossed the positive territory since the onset of COVID-19 in March. Moreover, there are positive year-on-year (YOY) exports to 7 out of the top 10 major export destinations: Thailand (21.9%), the combined markets of China and Hong Kong (17.6%); Singapore (9.1%); Germany (7.7%); the Netherlands and Taiwan (3% each); and Japan (0.7%). This has eased the year-to-date growth rate to negative 13.8 percent from negative 16.6 percent posted in the first eight months of 2020.
Macatoman then urged the export sector to help the government in crafting policy reforms that will not only improve and boost the performance of our export but to generate the much-needed revenues for the economy and jobs for our people.
“This pandemic may have changed our lives, but I fervently hope that the spark is still within us, the passion to continue on what we were all doing before the pandemic struck the country – that is, boosting the export sector as well as continuing to assist the country’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in sustaining their markets and products despite the current challenges they are facing,” he said.
He added that together the “exports sector can leverage and make use of available and cutting-edge digital tools and continue to innovate as entrepreneurs so that we remain competitive in this evolving digital economy.”
Meantime, Lopez assured exporters that the government is implementing initiatives to ensure success of their innovation and digitalization efforts to compete in the global market.
Lopez has emphasized to exporters the need to innovate and digitalize to be able to compete. “With the pandemic, digitalization is now at the center of today’s economic development while also amplifying the need to quickly adopt new technologies and technological advancements. This has likewise underscored the pressing need for business and government to adapt to these changes,” he said.
Aside from digitalization, Lopez urged exporters to future-proof their human resources.
Lopez cited the Linkedln 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, which revealed that the digital economy is driving emerging jobs in the country, including software engineers and developers who are critical for businesses wanting to take the next digital step.
The list of new jobs includes: robotics engineers; cybersecurity specialists; customer success specialists; full stack engineers; dev-ops engineers; data engineers; java script developers; and cloud engineers.
These jobs will be essential in the future of big-data analytics, cloud computing, and e-commerce.
“Businesses need to embrace technology and upgrade training programs to equip their workers with the best skills to keep up with the digital transformation. With the right steps and actions, our businesses and government can take this as the opportunity to build an innovative, more tech-savvy future for the country,” he said.
While the Philippine economy has been severely affected by the pandemic, he said the country can return to a solid growth and development trajectory if we enable the economy to recover by efficiently managing risks. This means safely allowing the economy to open up further to help our people recover their sources of income, which would put our country back on its solid growth and development
In keeping up with the country’s commitment to innovation, the DTI has been working on the following industry 4.0 readiness initiatives.
These include the Industry 4.0 roadmaps designed to sustain and improve the country’s innovation ranking and performance in the Global Innovation Index. Second is the Global MSME Academy, a training facility for 4IR technologies to upskill and reskill the workforce, making them Industry 4.0 ready. Third is the establishment of an Industry 4.0 Pilot Factory to serve as a demonstration facility for the technologies that businesses can adopt.
In addition, the DTI is developing a framework to reskill and upskill workers for Industry 4.0 technologies. Lastly, he said, the DTI is positioning the Philippines as an AI center for excellence in the region by developing the talent pool and the country’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.