WITH the forthcoming Asean integration in 2015 and the enormous challenges that globalization and regional integration carry, it is crucial that businesses, government and other stakeholders act in concert to address these challenges and ensure sustainable growth, a top business leader said on Wednesday.
Alfredo Yao, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), urged all stakeholders to promote the Philippine brand as the country joins the integrated Asean community next year.
Yao was speaking during the opening of the three-day 40th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC) at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.
This year’s theme is “Proudly Pinoy: Partnering Towards Sustained Growth.” PBC is highlighting the competitiveness of local industries and the quality of Philippine-made (Pinoy) products and services.
PCCI, the biggest business group in the country, organized the PBC as a rallying platform for all sectors to act in unison to address common challenges related to business competitiveness, good governance and inclusive and sustainable growth.
“We will focus on promoting the Philippine brand and creating the country’s niches and value additions in the Asean and global value chains; on the infrastructure and regulations that can ensure the global competitiveness of the products and services of local-based businesses firms and enterprises,” Yao said.
“Proudly Pinoy: Partnering Towards Sustained Growth” hopes to lay down the roadmap to strategically position Philippine industries and enterprises to seize the Asean market, gain a foothold in the global market and capture investments coming into the region
“We have tailor-fitted our program to cater to these growing issues. While we hope to catalyze on the growing investors’ appetite on our economy, we are mindful of the need to make a real impact on inclusive growth—creating jobs, expanding investments, developing new industries, nurturing entrepreneurs, and instilling the competitiveness mindset,” Yao said.
The 40th PBC will look into building more public-private partnerships programs that will further engage government and the private sector in building critical infrastructures to speed up economic growth: roads, bridges, power plants, hospitals, transportation, tourism, site development, school houses, and housing.
The PCCI is pushing for development of the SMEs in the area of the integration with Asean to be able to be globally competitive.
“On the issue of charter change, it will take a change in the economic provisions to allow increased ownership by foreign direct investors but will this be a boon, or a bane, to SMEs? We will explore the issues related to relaxation of negative investments lists, service contract terms, among others, during this PBC,” PCCI’s Yao added.
Vice President Jejomar Binay graced the event as keynote speaker. In his speech, he said that “the success of a truly working partnership among all stakeholders is a key ingredient to the achievement of goals, and I am pleased that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has made this idea its central theme as we approach crunch-time with the impending Asean integration next year.”
“Finding an effective partnership is also instrumental in the attainment of our over-arching objective, which is to cascade the unprecedented economic growth that the Philippines has achieved over the years to the people,” he added.
Binay cited that Philippine export receipts grew by 10.5 percent in August 2014. From January to August of this year, export sales reached $40.7 billion, or 9.2 percent higher than the $37.3 billion reported in the same eight-month period of 2013.
He noted that according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, “in July we have reached a new record high in Foreign Direct Investment of $4.01 billion. This is a 150 percent increase from the $2.6 billion recorded in the same seven-month period of 2013.”
He said the Philippines remained the top destination for business process outsourcing, clinching the number one spot for voice driven BPO or call centers.
But Binay added that the country’s growth numbers do not “bear meaning for many of our fellow Filipinos. Unless these numbers yield nutritious food that parents can serve their children; books and other learning materials that will help in their education; medicines that will allow families to tend to their sick members; and jobs that afford them the chance to save for the future rather than merely barely sustaining their daily needs, these numbers remain figures that can only be seen as tantalizingly, but never touched. “
He said these are numbers “that will only spark questions and anger, and a feeling that those in power have once again neglected the people who need help.”