[Greet list]

Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant day to all of you!

First, I’d like to thank the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) for your support to our efforts to strengthen the national government’s digitalization initiatives, such as the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Roadmap and the E-Commerce Roadmap.

Your support and that of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that adopted digital platforms had placed our country at the top of Southeast Asia’s digital economies.

The Philippine internet economy grew the fastest among Southeast Asian countries and expanded by a steep rate of 93% this year, according to the 2021 e-Conomy Southeast Asia (SEA) Report from Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company. The report also highlighted that the country’s internet economy doubled in 2021, registering a total of USD17-B. This growth was driven by government initiatives and mass digital adoption due to the pandemic and is expected to achieve at least USD 40B by 2025.

Looking back to the onset of the pandemic, we deemed it was important that we immediately introduced a number of digitalization programs for MSMEs that were directly affected by the lockdowns. We leveraged on the power of the internet and digital technologies to fight the economic impact of the pandemic as we aim to continually lift the quality of life of every Filipino through e-commerce.

We launched the e-Commerce Philippines 2022 Roadmap with the whole e-government, highlighting strategies that will aid infrastructure, institutions, systems, and people in embracing an economy that operates in the digital landscape. Our battle cry is “Basta e-commerce MADALI”— MADALI stands for Market Access, Digitalization and Logistics integration. The MADALI Roadmap aims to promote easy, safe, secured, and reliable online transactions and translate them to easy commerce.

The Google Study cited that the Philippines welcomed 12 million new digital consumers since the start of the pandemic. Of these digital consumers, 63% are from non-metro areas and 99% intend to continue utilizing these online services. It also noted that the e-commerce sector ensured continuity of livelihood with 39% of digital merchants saying they would not have survived the pandemic if not for digital platforms.

In the middle of the pandemic, both the government and the private sector rallied all its efforts, networks, and resources to make sure that we will leave no one behind in helping the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and our Filipino consumers to jump to the internet economy.

We spearheaded the CTRL+Biz Webinar series in collaboration with e-commerce players, where 201 different topics in relation to e-commerce were taught in 183 sessions to 40,395 participants nationwide. DTI also worked with various government agencies to advocate for further improvements in digital financial services, transport and logistics, cybersecurity, and internet infrastructure, among others.

Our Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (RIICs), on the other hand, enable MSMEs in the regions to tap into the innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities in their areas through collaboration with government and academe partners. We also have SMART Link, which connects MSMEs and even large enterprises with startups or digital enterprises that provide digital solutions such as e-payments, chatbot for customer management, and human resource and payroll management.

Aside from this, we also recently launched, together with StartUp Village, Project Match, which will facilitate linkages between startup technology and MSMEs.

In connection with the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Roadmap we launched earlier this year, we are establishing the country’s national AI hub, the Center for Artificial Intelligence Research (or CAIR), which will house top-caliber AI talent and conduct world-class AI research and development (R&D). CAIR will support the digital transformation of MSMEs using AI technology through consultancy services, off the shelf AI products and software, and training at an affordable cost.

I personally remain confident that we will accomplish more together. We declared in our e-Commerce Roadmap 2022 there that we will grow exponentially, and we did. We have grown the fastest among Southeast Asia, but the better news is that we have only just begun. Our promise to our MSMEs and Filipino consumers holds true to our mantra, Basta e-commerce, MADALI.

Thank you once again to PCCI for bringing the policymakers and the business leaders together in this conference for a productive exchange of relevant ideas. Through a whole-of-society approach, we can indeed build back a better Philippines where, as envisioned by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, all our people can achieve a more comfortable and greater quality of life.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat!

Date of Release: 17 November 2021