Guten Morgen! His Excellency Ambassador Alain Guschen, distinguished members of the diplomatic corps, colleagues in government, and esteemed guests, a pleasant morning to all.

Congratulations to the organizers of this 3-day Innovation Exhibit showcasing Swiss ingenuity and craftsmanship. We share in the felicitations as the occasion also celebrates our two countries’ 65 years of diplomatic relations.

As the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, the Philippines continued to proceed with trade in goods and services. Among the four member-states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Switzerland imports and exports most with the Philippines.

Trade between the Philippines and Switzerland increased by over 10% from 664 million euros in 2020 to more than 730 million euros in 2021. The amount represents almost 90% of the Philippines’ total trade with EFTA member states.

That’s why as the world recovers from the pandemic, I know that our two countries will maintain our collaboration in building bridges of trade and investment, as well as goodwill and ideas — across the miles — beyond the PH-EFTA Free Trade Agreement mentioned earlier, and the Philippines- Switzerland Joint Economic Commission.

Let me share with you the Philippine plan in building back better in a postpandemic world. An inclusive and sustainable industrial development is imperative to build a more competitive economy. Through science, technology, and innovation (STI) and the use of essential digital technologies, industries will be better positioned to transform and face competition in domestic and export markets.

STI will define our next era of industrialization. The same wave of technologies will help our industries in transitioning toward a rapid and resilient economic recovery.

Globally competitive and innovative industries can support inclusive growth; and improve environmental sustainability and quality of life for Filipinos.

We will pursue six strategic actions toward a dynamic industry ecosystem.

To achieve our goal of inclusive growth and quality of life for all Filipinos, we will build a dynamic industry ecosystem on six pillars. DTI cannot and will not do this alone.

We shall take on a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach to pursue these six strategic actions.

The first strategic action is to embrace Industry 4.0.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings unprecedented change. It is merging our biological, physical, and digital worlds. It is shifting our approach to developing our economies. Industry 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and smart manufacturing can help advance enterprises and industries; and increase the share of STI-intensive sectors in our country’s GDP.

The second strategic action is to develop innovative micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as entrepreneurial tech startups.

This strategy will involve accelerating MSMEs’ growth by enabling them to scale up from micro to small, from small to medium, and from medium to large. We will further prepare MSMEs for digital transformation.

The third strategy is to integrate trade, investment promotion, and industry development policies.

We will integrate our production systems, for instance, by linking manufacturing, agriculture, and services. We shall deepen our global value chain (GVC) participation; pursue a more aggressive trade and investment policy; and expand and diversify our exports, trade, and investment partners.

The fourth strategic action is to develop human capital and capacity-building programs to prepare our workforce for the future.

While many jobs will be lost as a result of automation, new jobs will emerge through the adoption of technologies that will increase worker productivity. Tapping this opportunity will require increasing investments in skills development. We also would like to persuade and support companies to upskill their workforce so that workers can perform newer and higher-order roles that complement the work of machines.

Current systems of learning and signaling job-fit are not enough to provide the agility that lifelong learners will require. We therefore need to shift to a skills-based system that can provide more efficient mechanisms.

The fifth strategic action is to promote regional industrialization through innovation and entrepreneurship.

In our effort to be responsive to nuances in the country’s regional growth, we acknowledge the inequalities among our various regions. How can we respond to this?

One direction is to support regions and urban centers to specialize where they have the most competitive advantage and natural endowment.

In focusing our efforts on regional industrial transformation, we aim to use STI and entrepreneurship as means to modernize our agro-industrial activities, among others.

The sixth strategic action is to create and foster an enabling economic environment to attract more investments, foreign and domestic.

This action calls for policies that attract investors and entrepreneurs to the Philippines. Aside from rationalizing regulations, it will also cover building competitive physical and digital infrastructure. Doing so reduces the cost of doing business and attracts more investments.

Finally, Swiss pharmaceutical companies might be interested to know that we aim to make the Philippines self-sufficient in medical devices, as well as digital health products and services such as personal health wellness technology products, therapeutic systems addressing chronic diseases, telemedicine solutions, and AI-assisted diagnoses.

Today, I toast to more years of innovation, trade and investment, and friendship.

Let’s make building the future together happen in the Philippines.

Danke schön! And good morning. ♦

Date of Release: 2 November 2022