PH exports poise to take further growth as digital technology adaption

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By Alithea De Jesus

Export performance of the Philippines faced some challenges during the start of the pandemic as supply chain and logistics become one of the critical issues due to the implemented quarantine measures by the government.

But the government and private collaboration paved the way for more resilient and stronger export business to Filipino manufacturers and traders.

Almost two years since the pandemic, the Philippine export industry is recovering from the pandemic impacts and expected to further grow as economies open worldwide while stakeholders embark on a digitalization and business continuity program.

“The lowering of the alert levels towards the full re-opening of the economy, coupled with fast-tracking our vaccination program, are critical interventions to help achieve our recovery and growth targets,” Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) chairman George Barcelon said during the virtual Pilipinas Conference.

Barcelon said exports have risen from a 50-percent plunge in April 2020 to an 18-percent year-on-year increase up to September this year, marking the seventh consecutive month of improved performance.

He said electronics is expected to continue to be the biggest dollar earner, with industrial, medical, automotive, and telecom electronics products as growth drivers.

With the sector’s continued recovery, Barcelon said the export industry group is implementing the Future-Ready or P30 program using two strategies: technology and closer collaboration with partners.

The program features five components namely, the AI-powered PHILEXPORT portal, business continuity plan, The Road to FIRe (Fourth Industrial Revolution) Project, Thematic Clusters, and Export Connect.

He said the portal features relevant information, business matching, online transactions with PHILEXPORT, and promotion and marketing, among others.

Members with no website or who wish to have an expanded virtual presence may use this portal as a microsite or as template for their own portal, he added.

Through the second component of the P30 program, Barcelon said they hope to assist interested members to transition to the FIRe.

“At PHILEXPORT, we have also started the digitization of files and (are) now moving to the development of systems that will support the portal and our online operations. We also intend to share these templates with our BSOs (business support organizations) and company members,” he said, adding that the business continuity plan covers physical and infrastructure.

He said the Thematic Clusters directly involves chapter leaders and members whose champions will be part of the national clusters on resilience, environment and business sustainability; productivity and technology; marketing and promotion; and gender and labor/social compliance.

Barcelon further said the last component is another collaboration platform as PHILEXPORT works closely with government agencies to ease and inform about regulatory requirements.

He said complementing the P30 program is the group’s work with the Executive and Legislative branches of government that involves outstanding issues such as streamlining of documents and processes through computerization; more development funds for export promotion; research and development (R&D) and technology acquisition especially for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and infrastructure.

For its part, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said his group has also initiated programs and projects even at the start of this pandemic to help mitigate the negative impacts of this crisis, especially on business
and workers.

Ortiz-Luis particularly cited the National Employment Recovery Strategy or NERS Task Force that signed the “Reform. Rebound. Recover: 1 Million Jobs (IMJ) for 2021” project.

“The 1MJ aims to immediately source Filipino talents for deployment in the construction, manufacturing (particularly semiconductors and electronics), tourism and hospitality, and export industries, under a policy environment that would help create jobs all over the country,” he said during the same event.

Ortiz-Luis, also president of PHILEXPORT, said they are also continuously working with the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in upgrading skills, particularly to meet the demands of this digital transformation that is evolving globally.

“Hit the most by this pandemic, we are handholding the micro, small and medium enterprises to pivot to sectors and platforms that are successfully exhibiting resilience and increasing demand,” he said.

He added the employers group has partnered with other BSOs, such as Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and PHILEXPORT, in promoting innovation and technology as a productivity, competitiveness, and business continuity response.

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