Speech of Secretary Ramon M. Lopez
Philippine Garments, Leather Goods Industries & Fabric Expo
23 August 2018, SMX Convention Center, Pasay City
Thank you and good morning, everyone. Thanks to Dr. Andrew Kay, Mr. Nick Reyes. Regards to Mayor Calixto. For the information of everyone, Pasay City was one of the major awardees in the recently concluded Competitiveness of Cities and Municipalities. Pasay is one of the major competitive cities and municipalities in the country today.
To our DTI and BOI family, ED Corieh, Our good friends from PETCO [Philippine Exhibits and Theme Parks Corporation] Marissa and Heidi, for so many years, more than a decade already. Hindi naman two decades, possibly.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me, of course, welcome the delegates from many countries. Vietnam, India, and Hong Kong and many other countries represented today. Thank you for your trust and support in projecting the Philippines as one of the major players in leather goods, garments, textile, [and] fabric. Our friends from PTRI [Philippine Textiles Research Institute] are also, of course, in support of this endeavor.
The trade fair is an effective platform to showcase all the recent latest technologies that we have in the textile, garments, footwear and all these industries that are mostly participated in by the Micro SMEs in the country today. In fact, we’ve launched several platforms as well that would sell many of our products to the mainstream market.
We have the Go Lokal! that sold top quality Micro SME products in the mainstream malls and markets on an everyday basis, not just on exhibits and trade fairs for a limited number of days but is essentially an area for them to be incubated for their market.
We’ve also launched yesterday the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippine Hub. These are displayed and showcased in the Sikat Pinoy National Trade Fair. It is still ongoing for the next three days. This is at the Megamall, in the middle part of Metro Manila.
As you know, the Philippines [has] so many good stories nowadays. We can always say that the Philippines is on the breakout with so many good numbers coming out. The GDP, 6.7%, even though it’s 6% [now], [the year-to-date GDP] is still above 6%. Manufacturing is close to 8%. Employment in the wearables accounting for 20-30% of manufacturing. Manufacturing used to be at the 3-4% growth rate only in the past but now reaching 7-8%.
Investment keeps on pouring in. Today, we posted 28% growth in investments. Last year, we reached a 50-year record for investments in the Board of Investments of Php 617B. FDI, US$10.2B. Another high-level last year and still posting double-digit this year. So many good things to say.
[In] Demographics, we have a young population that is now more employed so you can imagine that this will go on for so many more years in enlarging the consumer base. There are now 106M Filipinos [with an] average age of 23 years old. So you can imagine a growing in middle class, a young market that will continue to grow and that’s the reason why the malls are freed up, most people coming up, condos being built left and right.
Property prices [are] 10x more than in just a couple of years ago in terms of prices. You can see even steel and cement that we keep on importing from Vietnam due to the add-on to the production capacity that we still have part limited nowadays, and you see that the growth has even on a rapidly upward slope. It used to be, just in the past 10 years, flat. I say 3.5M metric tons for steel and close to 20M for cement. But in the last four years, it keeps on going up by I think about 20M metric tons every year. So fast, so rapid. That is the reason why some brands have been projecting Philippines to become the 16th largest economy by 2050 and hopefully even earlier than that.
The Duterte Administration is very much into macroeconomic reforms, tax reform, so many reforms being done to make sure that the economy will continue to have a sustainable macroeconomic environment that will support the growth of many industries. We will continue to support the export sector, continue to support the industry sector with the launch the manufacturing resurgence strategy, we will continue to support innovating inclusive industrialization. We will promote creativity, creativity that really characterizes these industries that we are celebrating today.
For the DTI, our task is to provide a 360-degree support to the Micro SME sector from providing free seminars and trainings, changing mindset, mastery of entrepreneurship, continuous mentoring, providing them with microfinancing loans as our way to replace the 5-6 loans. This is the program started with the president in an effort to really provide the much-needed capital especially for the Micro entrepreneurs, low collaterals needed, etc. and providing them machines as well­, hopefully, the machines here will also be provided to the many entrepreneurs out there.
The DTI provides machines for cooperatives and groups of entrepreneurs. But the DOST [Department of Science and Technology] provides machines for individual entrepreneurs. So we compliment our programs and once they have the product as mentioned, we give them the mainstream market in the malls and exhibits like this. So we are very happy to be part of this.
We hope that we can continue to grow these industries here and maximize the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) that we have. We have FTAs with ASEAN and Japan. We are now doing the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] with ASEAN and China, Vietnam, Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand.  We would also like to maximize the [European Free Trade Association] EFTA-Philippines FTA. And we continue to enjoy the GSP with the EU and that’s a GSP+, and GSP in the US.
Recently, we included the travel goods [in the GSP] and hopefully, we can add footwear in the near future. And hopefully, that can translate to more investments into these sectors as we start discussions of FTA with the US.
So I guess with this, we just look forward to a more vibrant sector for footwear, leather goods, textile, garments, and really help these industries help the country achieve inclusive growth and a more prosperous Philippines in the years to come.
Maraming Salamat po. Good Morning.