The Philippines must pursue infrastructure projects, trade agreements and the empowerment of small and medium enterprises to boost export competitiveness, the Department of Finance (DoF) said.
The export sector is expected to recover this year, with additional shipments to China and Russia as trade relations improve, the DoF said in a statement on Tuesday.
But the government must implement the necessary agenda and programs vital to improving the export sector that weakened in November last year, according to the latest DoF Economic Bulletin.
Exports fell by 7.5 percent to $4.732 billion in November from $5.118 billion a year earlier, bringing the year-to-date tally to $51.361 billion or 5.2 percent lower than the $54.168 billion in January to November 2015.
Amid slowing exports, Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran said infrastructure development, free trade and bilateral trade agreements, as well as the empowerment of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should be pursued.
“We should continue infrastructure development especially in port areas to enhance cross-border trading; pursuit of free trade and bilateral trade agreements with other economies and regions; and capacitating MSMEs to tap export markets,” Beltran was quoted as saying.
DoF data showed around 60 percent of Philippine exporters are MSMEs. Enhancing access to credit will further improve the export capability of these small entrepreneurs, he said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte intends to explore and expand opportunities with countries beyond the traditional trading partners in line with plans to further open up the economy to foreign investors.
So far only $46 million worth of Philippine goods are shipped to Russia each year, while China ranks as the fourth largest importer at $5.58 billion as of November 2016, the DoF noted.
China and Russia are being eyed as major destinations for Philippine agriculture products and manufactured crafts, following President Duterte’s rebalanced foreign policy direction, it added.