“There is now greater likelihood of success,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez confidently told businessmen during the general membership meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) of the Philippines, adding that there are now greater chances for Filipinos to step out from poverty.

Following the strong mandate from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to alleviate poverty and uplift the quality of life by pursuing sustainable economic growth that generates more income opportunities through employment and entrepreneurship, DTI has made this objective at the top of its agenda, according to Sec. Lopez, citing figures on the increasing propensity of Filipinos to become entrepreneurs.

In his keynote speech, the DTI chief briefed the private sector on DTI’s initiatives and thrusts, largely on the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which is also the priority of the President.

The trade chief urged AMCHAM members to adopt an inclusive business model that integrates MSMEs into the value chain from supply sourcing to distribution. According to him, mall owners have approved, in principle, the proposal to give high-quality products from various towns in the country considerable exposure in the mainstream market.

Employing about 60 percent of the country’s workforce, MSMEs can be frontrunners of “innovation-led and idea-based” entrepreneurship, producing products that are “game-changing, value-adding and can truly make a difference in the market,” he said.

As Sec. Lopez emphasized DTI’s “Trabaho at Negosyo” paradigm, he also mentioned initiatives to improve ease of doing business, primarily by streamlining and modernizing the business permit and licensing system, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

To further promote MSMEs, DTI establishes Negosyo Centers that cater to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs on business concerns such as securing licenses and permits, improving product quality, packaging and marketing, among many others. The current 299 Negosyo Centers across the country will continue to increase by year end.

Similarly, DTI’s more than 2,000 shared service facilities (SSF) enhance MSME productivity by accelerating product development and innovation measures, thus making products saleable and more relevant to market needs.

AMCHAM members were informed of DTI’s strategies to improve domestic and international markets, to maximize gains from free trade agreements, and to manage impacts of ASEAN economic integration, including through effective implementation of industry roadmaps.

Sec. Lopez also called for agribusiness development, strengthened regional investment promotions, stricter consumer rights enforcement, upgraded product standard testing facilities and intensified efforts to counter substandard products.

According to its website, AMCHAM Philippines, established in 1902, is committed to “serve the interests of Philippine and American businesses through the participation of members in promoting their long-term objectives, while contributing to the civic and economic development of the Philippines.”