17 January 2018

also published in Business Mirror

RECENT preliminary reports from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that Philippine merchandise exports continued on a positive trajectory, increasing by 10.79 percent in the first 11 months (January to November) of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, an analysis confirmed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

From January to November 2017, the value of merchandise exports was shared almost evenly by electronics and nonelectronics with 51.38 percent and 48.62 percent, respectively.

Exports of Philippine Electronic products increased remarkably by 10.84 percent in the first 11 months of 2017. This was achieved on the back of the robust performance of six out of the nine subsectors of the industry, which contributed a 97.95-percent share in the cumulative total value of the industry.

Meanwhile, nonelectronic goods increased significantly by 10.73 percent in the first 11 months of 2017, backed by positive growth of a wide range of sectors in the nonelectronics category. Topping the list were Forest Products with triple-digit growth of 560.9 percent. Other contributing commodities exhibited double-digit increases, including mineral products (76.12 percent), sugar and products (47.77 percent), footwear (47.43 percent), coconut products (37.61 percent), nonmetallic mineral manufactures (32.17 percent) and furniture and fixtures (26.27 percent). Exports of garments also increased by 3 percent, while Travel Goods and Handbags at 1.53 percent.

“The increase of exports sales for some nonelectronic goods this year may be viewed as a result of the sector-focused intervention included in the 2015-2017 Philippine Export Development Plan,” DTI Trade and Investments Promotion Group Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado said.

The leading destination of Philippine merchandise exports for the first 11 months of the year was still the combined markets of the People’s

Republic of China and Hong Kong SAR. Shipments to this combined market, with a share of 24.49 percent, increased by 20.99 percent in value.

The next leading destination was Japan with a 16.42-percent share, followed by the United States with a 14.6-percent share in total exported goods.

17 January 2018

also published in Business MIrror

THE government’s interagency task force on Ease of Doing Business (EODB) is speeding up reforms to improve the country’s competitiveness.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the strategy is to pursue a “whole of government approach,” where all instrumentalities of the government involved in business regulations take a unified action in simplifying government processes and making them more business-friendly.

“Remember that competitiveness and ease of doing business is No. 3 in the President’s socioeconomic agenda.  The executive branch, both national government agencies and local government units, and the Legislative branch are working double time so that businesses could benefit from these reform initiatives,” Lopez said.

The trade secretary reported on the latest reforms initiated by the Executive branch.

In November 2017 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) implemented the Company Registration System that significantly reduced the processing time and procedures in company verification and registration. The system also integrates the issuance of Taxpayer Identification Number, and employer numbers from the Social Security System (SSS), Pag-IBIG Fund and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

In December 2017 Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista issued an order establishing one-stop shops (OSS) for business permits that will facilitate registration of new businesses. The OSS is now operational at the Quezon City Hall.

To speed up the issuance of construction permits, the departments of Public Works and Highways, the Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology and Trade and Industry (DTI) issued a joint circular, which prescribed standards and procedures in the issuance of building permits, certificates of occupancy and other construction-related permits.

A unified employee enrollment form and system will soon be implemented by the SSS, Pag-IBIG and PhilHealth for new corporations registered with the SEC that will consolidate enrollment of new employees at a single portal or at any one of the social security agencies.

The trade secretary expressed confidence that Congress will soon pass the Expanded ARTA/EODB bill, which will significantly address red tape, and expedite business related transactions in the country.

Lopez mentioned other important legislation, such as the amendment of the Corporation Code, the passage of the Secured Transactions Act, which will improve Philippines’s ranking in starting a business and getting credit indicators in the Doing Business Survey, respectively.

The DTI also noted reforms in the Judicial branch. The full implementation of the e-Court system by the Supreme Court is seen enhancing the Philippines’s Enforcing Contracts scores.

“We are looking forward to the issuance by the Supreme Court of the guidelines on e-notarization also expected to create positive results in the competitiveness ranking,” Lopez said.

Last year the Philippines slipped 14 notches to 113th rank in the Doing Business report published by World Bank-International Finance Corp. It measures the ease of doing business across 10 processes that a firm must undertake over its typical life cycle.

“Reforms must happen across government to achieve our goal to become top 20 percent in world rankings by 2020,” said Lopez, who is also chairman of the Doing Business Task Force.

17 January 2018

also published in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) sees improvement in the ease of doing business in the country, with the implementation of the joint memorandum circular (JMC) directing local government units (LGUs) to streamline the issuance of building permits and certificates of occupancy.

For the first time, JMC 2018-01—jointly issued by the departments of Public Works and Highways, the Interior and Local Government, Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and DTI—sets service standards for processing simple applications for construction-related permits.

This is in response to President Duterte’s call to simplify the issuance of permits by LGUs in support of the “Build, Build, Build” program of the government.

The JMC covers single-dwelling residential buildings of not more than three floors, commercial buildings of not more than two storeys, renovation within a mall with issued building permits and warehouses storing nonhazardous substances.

As prescribed in the circular, LGUs are enjoined to set up a processing system that will ensure that applicants follow a four-step procedure in securing building permits—submission of application with complete documentation, receipt of the order of payment, payment of fees and claiming of the permits.

Processing time by LGUs is reduced to five working days maximum, while that for Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) permits is limited to not more than three days for building-permit applications.  The same number of steps and processing time are prescribed for applications for certificates of occupancy. The JMC also recommended a preformatted form and a uniform set of documentary requirements and a one-time assessment and one-time payment of fees, with the latter eliminating the current practice of separately paying for different construction-related documentary clearances in different LGU offices and the BFP.

To be able to comply with the service standards, the government is mandating LGUs to establish one-stop shops that will consolidate the processing of clearances issued by LGUs related to construction permits, such as building permits, certificates of occupancy, locational clearances, tax declaration, tax clearances, certificates of final electrical inspection, as well as those required by the BFP—the Fire Safety Evaluation Clearance and the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate. To be able to do this, representatives from the Office of the Building Official, Treasury Office, Zoning Office, Assessor’s Office of the LGU and BFP will be co-located in one area at the LGU.

Joint inspection teams will also be organized to ease the burden of applicants in accommodating multiple inspections by different offices before their certificates of occupancy are released.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, who chairs the National Competitiveness Council and Doing Business Task Force, is confident that the recently signed circular will bring significant results in the Philippines’ ranking in Doing Business Report.

“We fervently support the implementation of this circular, as it strengthens our previous efforts to eliminate red tape. Now that JMC 2018-01 is in place, we look forward to improved ease of doing business and better performance in Doing Business rankings,” Lopez said.

Following the drastic process reengineering that LGUs will be undertaking as a result of the JMC, Lopez is also persuading the cities, especially those in highly urbanized areas, to start developing a Web-based system for online submission and processing of construction permits similar to the processes already being implemented by some Asean countries. This is also in line with the JMC, which enjoins LGUs to automate procedures, including the mode of payment, with the support of DICT.

by Roderick Abad

17 January 2018

also published in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to submit on January 26 the initial draft of the 2018-2020 Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) to President Duterte, expecting to get the President’s approval in the middle of the year.

With the inclusion of the comments from Economic Development Cluster (EDC) members, the amended plan will be presented by the DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) to the agency’s Excom by the end of the month; EDC Excom and Council on February 9; and the EDC in the last week of February.

The final blueprint will then be tendered in March to President Duterte who is expected to affix his sign of approval in the second quarter of 2018.

Besides the road map, the DTI-EMB bared accomplishments for its projects, activities and plans, including initiatives, such as capacity building for Filipino exporters of halal products, facilitation of market-access requirements, together with the Philippine Accreditation Bureau, and marketing and promotions of local halal products and services to major halal markets through its various Outbound Business Marketing Mission (OBMM).

Through the Ripples Plus Program, in cooperation with the Regional Operations Group and the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), the EMB conducted 26 information sessions, with 522 participants covering all regions. The sessions focused on food, coconut products, natural and organic products, franchising and information and communications technology.

Also, 219 Ripples enrollees joined OBMMs to Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Canada, Indonesia, China, Switzerland, Norway, France, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United States as part of the EMB’s marketing and promotion activities.

Moreover, eight companies from Region 9 completed the Export Pathways Program Level 4, while seven others from the same region graduated to EPP Levels 5, 6 or 7.

The EMB held 42 information sessions on Doing Business in Free Trade Areas, representing a 262- percent completion rate based on the 16 sessions targeted for the whole year.

The fora were attended by 551 firms with 3,559 participants, including representatives of companies, members of academe and government officials.

Through the Philippine Export Competitiveness Program, the EMB conducted 17 trade-information sessions in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao with 1,043 participants from 509 companies.

Last year the EMB organized 32 OBMMs to Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, South  Africa, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, China, Switzerland, Norway, France, South Korea, the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US.

These activities assisted 336 exporters for 2,427 buyers and generated $108.41 million in export sales.

Meanwhile, the EMB serviced 35 Inbound Business Matching Missions/Foreign Buyer Servicing from the UAE, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, China, Hungary, Japan, Germany, Australia, Macau, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Belgium, France, Russia, the United Kingdom  and the US, with total export sales of $13.62 million.

The bureau and EDC spearheaded the various activities for the National Exporters Week (NEW) in 2017, which included the National Export Congress, Showcase of Export Enablers and Stakeholders, a NEW bazaar, and Usapang Exports seminars, as well as awarding of top exporters based on PSA export data.

10 January 2018

also published in Business Mirror

PHILIPPINE merchandise exports are projected to grow double digits in 2017, with the expected sustained positive performance of major electronics and nonelectronics sectors in November and December.

The positive performance of six out of nine subsectors of the electronics industry—Semiconductors, Office Equipment, Communication/Radar, Consumer Electronics, Electronic Data Processing and Control and Instrumentation—is expected to contribute to the projected double-digit full-year export growth.

Similarly, exports of nonelectronic goods, such as Forest Products, Mineral Products, Footwear, Coconut Products, Sugar Products, Textile Yarns/Fabrics, and Furniture and Fixtures, are projected to sustain their significant growths in the next two reporting periods.

Philippine merchandise exports have maintained their double-digit positive performance in the first 10 months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, increasing by 11.68 percent, based on preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Last October alone, exports grew by a respectable 6.56 percent, marking the 11th consecutive month of positive growth being posted in the value of Philippine merchandise exports since December 2016. For 10 straight months, the value of merchandise exports in the review period was shared almost evenly by electronics and nonelectronics at 50.78 percent and 49.22 percent, respectively.

“The export sector is a big employment generator, and we welcome these positive developments, as this will translate to more job opportunities,” Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado said.

Recently, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised its growth forecasts for the Philippines to 6.7 percent for 2017 and 6.8 percent this year, with the projected robust economic expansion resulting from the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure program, called “Build, Build,  Build.”

The ADB noted that the government was on track to achieve its target of spending 5.3 percent of GDP on public infrastructure in 2017. Meanwhile, household consumption remained strong despite moderating slightly from 2016 and net exports turned positive in the review period, reversing a deficit in 2016.

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