The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has urged the government to keep the costs of doing business low in order to make small and medium enterprises (SMEs) more competitive amid the looming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration in 2015.
PCCI President Alfredo Yao, who spoke at the Visayas Business Conference held in Mandaue City on Friday, affirmed that the organization “views the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in a positive light.”
Asean’s open markets give access to the best ideas, technologies, and new business environments or parameters to work with, requiring innovation, skills, and new approaches to trade and investments, he said.
However, the PCCI president underlined that the cited promises of the AEC has been muted by the limited participation of the country’s SMEs.
“Receptiveness to embrace the potentials of the AEC has been rather meager because of concerns on the level of competitiveness of local industries versus those of our Asean neighbors that has limited the participation particularly of our SMEs in global production networks,” he said.
To address this, Yao urged the government to adopt policies geared towards enhancing the competitiveness of the country’s SMEs.
“We (PCCI) acknowledge that the opportunities offered by greater openness can only be achieved if our local industries and SMEs are provided with the complementary support that will enable them to participate effectively and benefit from the global production network being built by Asean with its trade partners and important export markets,” the PCCI president said.
In particular, he suggested that the government act urgently to lower the costs of doing business such as those related to power and logistics, transport infrastructure, laws and regulations, taxation, business permits and licensing, and access of SMEs to financing and technology.
Yao cited that these business costs were identified by SMEs in several forums conducted by PCCI for its members to promote a higher level of awareness on the Asean integration and to improve the capacities of companies, particularly SMEs.