THE country's manufacturing sector is expected to continue to grow this year, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Tuesday.

In a Viber message, Lopez said DTI is projecting the manufacturing sector to grow by 10 percent this year driven by the reforms initiated by the government.

In his speech at this year's Manufacturing Summit, Lopez added that Philippine manufacturing is poised to return to its pre-pandemic growth trajectory after suffering a slump in 2020.

"In 2020, manufacturing declined because of the pandemic by 9.8 percent, a very deep contraction, but strongly rebounded in 2021 at 8.8 percent. This shows that once the domestic and global economy adapt better to the pandemic situation, the Philippine manufacturing sector is ready to return to its pre-pandemic trajectory," said Lopez.

Lopez said that at present, sectors that were able to grow by more than 10 percent include food products, wood and bamboo products, furniture, paper and paper products, basic metals, fabricated metal products, chemical and chemical products, and pharmaceutical products.

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Other sectors that contributed to manufacturing's growth include transport equipment, reproduction or recorded media and the electronics sector.

During the summit, Lopez cited the sector's huge contribution, especially in job creation.

Citing data, he said that as of April 2022, the manufacturing sector now employs a total of 3.66 million and already surpassed the pre-pandemic employment level of 3.65 million employees.

"In addressing the wide array of needs of various industries, we have achieved great strides in workforce training for the die and mold industry and certifications for the aerospace industry," said Lopez.

"We have also expanded our roadmap development initiatives to include the footwear industry, pharmaceutical industry, the cold chain industry and textile-garments industry," he added.

Lopez said, however, that there is a need to further help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), noting that they comprise 99.6 percent of Philippine manufacturing enterprises.

"Philippine manufacturing can promote greater socioeconomic inclusion only when our MSMEs are empowered to grow together with large companies," he said.

To empower MSMEs, Lopez said the government launched several programs such as the Kapatid Mentor Me Program, SME Roving Academy, financing through the Pondo Para sa Pagbabago, Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES Program during the pandemic and market promotions through the One Town One Product Initiative.

DTI also provided machinery through shared service facilities and promoted local products in government procurement through the Domestic Bidders Preference Certification Program.