Printing industry stakeholders from ASEAN Member States (AMS) are gathering today until tomorrow (November 21-22, 2017) for the first-ever ASEAN Printing Forum at the Crowne Towers Manila, City of Dreams, Paranaque City, with the primary objective of meeting the demands of regional integration and global markets opportunities.

Hosted by the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) in coordination with industry stakeholders, the forum will have AMS present their Country Report highlighting their respective printing industry performance and outlook for the next 10 years. The second day will cover technical reports on best practices on training of printing personnel, total quality management, and technology and trends.

There will also be business-to-business meetings among industry players of AMS for possible collaborative projects.

Being one of the activities coinciding with the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN2017, the highlight of the forum is the signing of an agreement on the next steps to move forward each AMS’ printing industry and the ASEAN printing industry as a whole.

ASEAN Printing Forum 2017

“This event is the venue for the leaders and movers of the ASEAN Printing industry who are here today to share country experiences, local insights, and industry expertise on the state of the printing industry in the region,” BOI Governor Napoleon Concepcion said during his opening remarks adding that the role of the printing industry in the global knowledge economy is important.

The IBIS World on Global Commercial Printing in its Market Research Report for January 2017 reported there is a strategic shift towards digital communications. Consumer spending and advertising budgets during the global recession declined and this ultimately led to a drop in commercial printing. The bright spot, however, is that growth in developing markets has somewhat mitigated the revenue declines, with industry forecast to grow in the next couple of years until 2021.

“Within ASEAN, we have an economic integration in full swing. We are now looking at more trade in the field of printing as we bring down tariff, capital restrictions and barriers to entry within the region. As home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world today, there exists a potentially lucrative market opportunity for printing companies with the 600 million predominantly young population of the AMS,” Governor Conception said.

“We have conceptualized the forum to be able to take full advantage of this integration. We are aware that the large number of players will bring about stiff competition. But our goal today is to standardize the quality of the goods and services not to compete with each other but to complement our services with those of neighboring ASEAN states,” he said.

“As one big regional market, we need to come together to become more cost-efficient and more quality-conscious. We also need to plan and anticipate the demand of goods and services from non-ASEAN states. We note that various global reports recognize the strong growth in most product categories of printing in Southeast Asia,” Governor Conception added.

“With the printing arena on a positive growth path, we should be aware of the opportunities and challenges so that we can take capitalize on the potential for bigger revenues and employment for our respective economies. Clearly, it is important that we understand that it is only through a positive and cooperative strategy that we can ensure that our individual countries and the print industry in ASEAN general, will remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly evolving market,” he said.

“On a broader front, printers in ASEAN know that if they want to succeed in the long term, they must continue to adapt to the ever changing market and economic conditions. Companies must be able to perform a variety of functions, including printing on paper, plastic, metal, glass and other materials, and typically produce different forms of literature, packaging and labels. This needs a deliberate approach to efficiency and automation while at the same time learning new skills and adding new value services,” he further said.

Governor Conception said that, “like any industry, printing is primarily affected by the dynamics of the supply and value chain. For ASEAN to be competitive, it is important to examine the quality of human resources, capital resources, and technology utilized in the production of goods or in the delivery of services.”

“There is a need to adopt product mix changes with a greater share of higher value products in growth areas like packaging, while recognizing that publication and commercial sectors are transitioning as demand shifts from paper media to digital devices. During the past couple of years, commercial printers have faced increasing competition from digital media. As digital media increasingly replaces traditional media and broadband connectivity improves and mobile media connections climb, we believe that printing companies in ASEAN must be nimble and agile to adapt to the needs of the industry” he said.

“Having said that, we know that there are clear indications of how big the task is to have standardized procedures / practices in printing and related services among AMS. We understand that we have a lot of work to do before we bridge the gap between the top-performing nations and the developing economies in ASEAN. This is the reason why we need the printing industry in ASEAN to unite. The leaders of the major printing associations in the region should work together and push for a common agenda and make competitiveness and innovation a priority for the ASEAN printing industry,” Governor Conception said.

“The global printing market is evolving as technology in use is also changing. Amidst the shifting dynamics in the industry, we need to showcase the capabilities of the ASEAN region in one big event annually so that the local players can take full advantage of the opportunities not just in our respective domestic markets but also get the chance to gain a bigger foothold in the regional and global markets. We call on the leadership of the ASEAN Printing industry associations to continue engaging other industry associations to make this dream a reality,” he said.

“Rest assured that the Philippines support for the ASEAN Printing industry does not end with the close of our hosting of ASEAN. We will continue to explore ways available to help the printing industry realize the objectives of the ASEAN Printing Forum,” he concluded.♦