MAKATI CITY—Renewing its commitment to the economic recovery initiatives of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual laid down the major milestones achieved by the Department throughout the year in areas of trade expansion, investment promotion, business climate competitiveness, workforce upskilling, and digital transformation for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), among others. 

“Despite the economic headwinds we faced this year, our collective efforts in the national government have indeed been the driving force behind our economic gains. The overseas visits of President Marcos and his economic team, for example, have paved the way for such promising investment activities that will all soon materialize and provide economic opportunities in the country,” said Secretary Pascual. 

The Board of Investments (BOI), an attached agency of the DTI, reported on 18 December 2023 its highest ever recorded investment approval at PHP 1.16 trillion, of which PHP 398.76 billion or 34% of the total authorized investments account for domestic investment approvals. The approved investments are from a total of 303 projects which are expected to generate over 47,000 employment opportunities for Filipinos. 

It was also reported that the main sources of the approved investments are Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. Some of the DTI’s notable foreign programs this year include the Investment Mission in the Netherlands, the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Business Week, and the Department’s Europe Investment Roadshow. 

“The DTI’s strategic roadmap is anchored on sustaining the country’s economic growth momentum through increasing national competitiveness and establishing the Philippines as an ideal investment hub worldwide,” said the trade chief. 

In terms of interagency collaboration, Secretary Pascual also sits as co-chair of the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), the Cabinet-level approving body tasked to grant fiscal incentives to investment activities with investment capital of above PHP1 billion. The interagency body advocates for a modern and transparent tax incentives regime in the country to attract big-ticket and quality investment projects into the country while ensuring prudent fiscal management.  

The latest report of the FIRB shows that there are already 45 approved tax incentives applications from various registered business enterprises, belonging to industries such as information and telecommunications infrastructure, manufacturing, and transportation. So far, the combined total investment capital of all FIRB-approved applications is at PHP 721.29 billion. 

Aside from the DTI’s role in investment promotion, the Department is a key player in propelling MSME empowerment across the country. This year, the DTI launched the Philippine E-commerce Platform (PEP), the first government omnichannel created to promote Filipino businesses by helping them expand online. PEP was launched in collaboration with the National Development Company (NDC) which connects the platform with the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT) e-Gov super-app. 

Further, the Department created programs leveraging ICT tools such as the Bureau of SME Development (BSMED)’s MSME Client Profile and Monitoring System. This cloud-based management system is targeted to assist and monitor the growth of MSMEs, and allow the DTI to develop a databank of MSMEs in the country.  

Aligned with the DTI’s dedication to boost local entrepreneurship, the Department has also taken the lead in institutionalizing the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Philippines, which provides MSMES or OTOP beneficiaries with easier access to credit or capital to assist them in establishing and growing their businesses. The OTOP Philippines enables local communities to develop products or services rooted in their culture, community resource, and creativity.  

This year, the DTI also launched the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028 which is aimed at promoting the country as an agile export powerhouse.  Guided by the national economic agenda of the Marcos administration, this comprehensive plan outlines four (4) key strategies in the next five (5) years to boost the Philippine export industry in terms of infrastructure, ease of doing business, promotion and marketing, and financing.  

“We at the DTI are supportive of the current administration’s steps to attain an inclusive economic transformation. Hence, we are implementing an industrial policy that is driven by science, technology, and innovation (STI),” said Secretary Pascual. 

“The DTI is taking this innovative approach because we aim to make the local business communities, especially MSMEs, future-ready. We need to continuously upskill our workforce so that they can keep up with the demands of the modern ways of doing business,” he added. 

Secretary Pascual has been at the forefront of the innovation capacity and competitiveness of local businesses. In 2023, the DTI sustained its Industry 4.0 initiatives that bolster the country’s globally competitive and innovative industries, one of which is the launch of the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy Roadmap. The main objective of the Roadmap is to turn the Philippines as an AI Center of Excellence, and accelerate the adoption and utilization of AI in the country for an inclusive and sustainable industrial development. 

In adherence to the Department’s consumer protection mandate, the DTI initiated several groundbreaking programs fostering a secure environment for online commercial transactions in the Philippines. The launch of the Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) and the DTI Consumer Complaints Assistance and Resolution System (CARe System) will streamline dispute resolution and consumer complaint handling process while ensuring consumer’s data privacy. Considering the passage of the Internet Transactions Act, these measures support the government’s commitment to fortifying e-commerce transactions and maintaining an efficient digital marketplace.  

The DTI also ramped up its efforts to strengthen its priority industry clusters. In the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Transport (IMT) cluster, Secretary Pascual touted the potentials of the country’s aerospace and semiconductor industries, aiming to secure more investments from foreign companies whenever the trade chief would be in high-level dialogues and meetings with key industry players abroad. 

In the Technology, Media, and Telecommunication (TMT) cluster, Secretary Pascual highlighted the strong IT-BPM industry, leveraging the country’s young, dynamic, and tech-savvy workforce. He also stressed the passage of the Philippines Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA), which mandates the development of a vibrant Philippine creative industries by strengthening the capacities of Filipino artisans and creatives. Targeting the same objective, the DTI launched the Malikhaing Pinoy Program and the ENSAYO Creative Hub to spur growth in the country’s creative industry.  

Meanwhile, in the Health and Life Sciences (HLS) cluster, the DTI reported the ongoing construction of the country’s first vaccine manufacturing plant that will be located in the province of Batangas. Secretary Pascual emphasized the importance of the facility, as it will prepare the country for possible health crises, similar to what happened during the pandemic. 

Ensuring the availability, accessibility and affordability of food for Filipinos, the DTI’s Modern Basic Needs Resilience Economy (MBNRE) cluster is focused on addressing the gaps in the food supply chain. The DTI chief underscored that through the passage of the Three-year Food Logistics Action Agenda this year, a whole-of-government approach will be employed to intensify efforts against hoarding and smuggling while using technology to improve food logistics around the country.  

“Our accomplishments this year serve as a clear testament of the competence and determination of the DTI in fulfilling its mandate to assist in the national government’s pursuit of good and modernized governance,” said Secretary Pascual. 

“The DTI is prepared and will continue to work closely with President Marcos and all of its stakeholders in the full realization of a Bagong Pilipinas in 2024,” the DTI chief added. ♦️

Date of Release: 30 December 2023