DIGITAL transformation, eliminating red tape, more foreign investments and increased empowerment for small businesses will be the Trade department's main priorities under the Marcos administration.

"One of my priorities is to promote digital transformation of DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) as well as the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and other enterprises in the country," incoming Trade secretary Alfredo Pascual said.

"We will also aim to foster greater investment and competition in logistics and connectivity services," Pascual added.

The Trade department will also keep promoting consumer protection. He explained that "empowering consumers really means giving them the information... with digitalization, we can provide advice on suggested retail prices of practically any of the commodities being demanded in the local market."

With regard to boosting the economy, he said "bringing in foreign direct investment is one of my priorities, given that we need the capital to support economic growth and provide job creation in the country."

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As for MSMEs, Pascual vowed that the Trade department would look into ways on how to help the sector cope with rising interest rates and inflation. "There are organizations that are meant to support [MSMEs] such as the Small Business Corp. I will have to look at how best we can support those who are affected," he said.

MSMEs, said to comprise around 99.5 percent of Philippine businesses, will also be urged to embrace digital transformation so they can improve operating efficiencies, reduce costs and raise profits while making products more affordable.

"Our objective is to enable small businesses to grow and graduate from micro to small, small to medium and medium to large," Pascual said. "We want to integrate them into the domestic and global value chains and become formidable players in the domestic and global economy."

The department will also update or craft industry roadmaps for industries with significant strategic importance or the potential for massive job generation, including tourism, creatives, agriculture and agribusiness, forestry, manufacturing, construction, responsible mining and outsourcing.

"We will continue implementing DTI's Manufacturing Resurgence Program, which aims to develop a globally competitive manufacturing industry," Pascual said. "We will introduce improvements as the domestic and global circumstances evolve."

The Trade chief also expressed support for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which the Senate failed to act on before formally adjourning earlier this month.

"We will continue to push for the immediate ratification of the RCEP Agreement and other trade agreements to tap into wider market opportunities," Pascual said. "These agreements will diversify the country's exports in terms of products/services and destinations, and enhance the country's attractiveness to foreign investments."