The Department of Trade Industry (DTI) has advised Philippine exporters to prepare and consider the opportunities offered by the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community by 2015.
“Business, more than government, will drive regional integration,” DTI Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo Jr. said during last week’s National Export Congress held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
He noted that it is businesses that will take advantage of the opportunities offered by a single market as well as the wide and varied complementation networks of a regional supply chain within Asean and its six free trade agreement (FTA) partners, namely, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
“With the recent developments, we have seen a significant shift from the traditional markets to our neighboring countries in Asean,” Manalo said.
For the last 20 years, the Philippine export market focused on United States, Europe, Japan and China. Manalo noted that Southeast Asia represents one of the biggest markets in the world with its more than 600 million young and dynamic population. It has a total aggregate gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.3 billion and an average per capita of $ 3,751.
In 2012, total trade between the Philippines and Asean amounted to $24 billion, or 21 percent of the country’s total trade. In the same year, Asean accounted for 7.3 percent of total approved investments in the Philippines amounting to P21 billion, a significant seven-fold increase from P3 billion in 2011.
“Asean is an important economic partner of the Philippines, both on the trade and investment fronts,” Manalo said.
Manalo noted that the DTI’s trade and investment promotion plans and programs are anchored on the Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) and the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP).
“The Philippine Export Development Plan, our main trade policy document, underscores strategies consistent with the AEC, an important one of which is the unified industry development and international trade strategy framework, with industry competitiveness as its foundation,” Manalo added.
For his part, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis said that, “We are at the end of the implementation of the 2011-2013 phase of the PEDP. So far, we may be short of target but we project that we will end up in positive territory, given that electronic products are showing some recovery.”