Ladies and gentlemen, a good afternoon to all of you. 

We’d like to thank GeiserMaclang Communications, Inc. (GMCI) for inviting us to be part of the virtual ASEAN launch of Digital Pilipinas 2021. We’d also like to acknowledge the audience present here, including industry chiefs, knowledge partners, and stakeholders that would help us lead the Philippines towards the future.  

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is one with the Digital Pilipinas Movement in believing that the Philippines can be a future technological leader in Southeast Asia. And like everyone here, we know this can only be achieved with a whole-of-society approach—that is, all of us working together to build back better in the post-pandemic tomorrow.  

Fortunately, the Philippines has a number of advantages that it can utilize. One is that our country is built for e-commerce. According to the 2021 Digital Report, the Philippines remained the top country in social media and internet usage worldwide. What’s more, e-commerce adoption in the Philippines grew from 70% in 2019 to 76% in 2020 and 80.2% in 2021.  

We saw this especially last year, with e-commerce coming to our rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many online businesses filled the void left by brick-and-mortar businesses affected by the community lockdowns. Online retail, delivery services, online entertainment, digital services, telehealth, work from home arrangements, digital payments—all of these helped us in the past year and continue to do so until now.   

Thus, it’s not surprising that we saw the number of online businesses increasing last year. Based on DTI’s Business Name Registration Next Generation System, the number of online businesses involved in retail trade jumped from 1,848 in January to March 2020 to 88,575 by the end of 2020. Presently, the total number of online business names registered for retail trade is around 105,159. 

That’s why we launched early this year the updated e-Commerce Philippines 2022 Roadmap, which the public and private sectors had collaborated in crafting together. Through this roadmap, we aim to increase the contribution of e-commerce to the Philippines’ GDP. To this end, the roadmap’s goals are: increase the number of e-commerce enterprises from 500,000 in 2020 to a million by 2022; develop a digitally skilled workforce to support the growing e-commerce sector; and empower online consumers and build trust between merchants and buyers.   

We also have a number of interventions that offer e-commerce skills to help our people upskill and reskill during the pandemic. In particular, the DTI e-Commerce Office (ECOM) has developed a TRABAHO (or Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher-Quality Opportunities) or jobs training pathway aimed those who want to get jobs in e-commerce, and a NEGOSYO (business) training pathway that would assist micro, small, and medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 

Focusing on the Negosyo Pathway, our CTRL+BIZ: Reboot Now! Program began in April 2020. Since the pandemic, we have conducted a total 121 sessions attended by 37,002 participants. Meanwhile, our Pivot Embrace Technology (PET) Project, which follows the TRABAHO pathway, had its first component implemented last March 2021. Attending this initial event were 140 participants composed of Senior High School students or those that had been unemployed by the pandemic. Other components are now being implemented, like a certification program for digital careers and work remote.  

In terms of policies and actions, we’ve already mentioned the e-commerce roadmap that lays out the framework and strategic directions we need to help us achieve our goals by 2022. In particular, we need to focus on market access, digitalization, and logistics integrations.  

Meanwhile, our lawmakers are currently making headway on the proposed Internet Transactions Act—and we are doing the same with the e-commerce policy agenda, online dispute resolution system, and the digitalization of MSMEs. DTI is also pushing for the country’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts to push for cross-border e-commerce.   

Before the pandemic, the government was already utilizing digitalization and government technology (GovTech) to push ease of doing business. That’s why the systems were already in place when COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and facilitated the digital transformation of businesses. In 2020, more than half of total applications for Business Name Registration and other related transactions were processed within eight minutes and 83% within an hour. We also saw a shift in the business payment preferences of many of our applicants for Business Names, which saw 67% registration fees made via online payment gateways versus the traditional over-the-counter or DTI cashier method. 

To push this further and to fulfill the order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last year that the “long line or queue should disappear finally,” DTI is initiating a GovTech project for e-commerce dubbed the “ECGO”. The DTI e-Commerce Office, which is working with the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) and AIM-DBI Foundation (Asian Institute of Management-Dado Banatao Incubator) on this project, aims to tap Philippine-based or local startups to pitch innovative government technology solutions. These should be viable to address areas of concern in e-commerce and create ease and convenience in business amongst government agencies, beginning with DTI.   

To conclude, the government remains committed in its lead role in enabling the different stakeholders in the country to ensure that our people will reap the benefits of e-commerce—including the jobs and employment created by it. But we are also confident that with everyone working together, our country can ride the wave of technology towards the future to become one of the technology leaders in the region. 

Thank you very much and mabuhay po tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 22 July 2021