From left to right: DDG Teodoro Pascua of the IPOPHL, DG Joel Joseph Marciano of the Philippine Space Agency,  Dr. Cielito Habito of the Ateneo School of Economics, Dr.  Marites Tiongco of the De La Salle School of Economics, Mr. John Avrett of the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Outgoing Secretary Ramon Lopez, Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, Former Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal,  Mr. Ferdinand Raquelsantos of EVAP, Mr. Roberto Batungbacal of Dow Chemical Phils., and Mr. Kelly Bird of the Asian Development Bank.

Makati City – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has successfully mounted the annual Manufacturing Summit on 21 June 2022 with the theme “Shaping the Future of the Philippine Industries: The Road to Resiliency Through Innovation” through a hybrid set up. The Summit, the seventh since its maiden conduct in 2016, was graced by over 100 onsite participants consisting of key officials and representatives from various government agencies and development partners, leading industry associations, and members of the academe, while over 400 participants joined in through the Zoom and Facebook platforms.

Over the years, the Summit’s discussion centered on the opportunities that are pivotal in our industrialization and innovation journey, particularly, in strengthening the country’s manufacturing sector. From “Trabaho at Negosyo” (the Summit’s theme in 2016) to “Securing the Recovery of Filipino Enterprises and the Resilience of Philippine Industries” (in 2021), the Summit has also delved into the compelling issues confronting the manufacturing sector – ranging from Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)-related matters to the adverse effects of the pandemic – as well as the government’s policies and programs to address them. 

For Secretary Ramon M. Lopez of the DTI, “…our theme this year is the convergence of all the previous Summits combined. Our goal is to discuss how we can revitalize enterprise development and expand job creation in the sector, in the context of a post-pandemic future, while harnessing innovation to secure resiliency and agility for the sector.”

DTI-Competitiveness and Innovation Group (CIG) Undersecretary Rafaelita “Fita” M. Aldaba recounted that “the past six years of the Summit have witnessed quite a lot of internal and external changes and developments that have shaped the manufacturing industry’s performance and contribution to the country’s economic growth. Starting from the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy (CNIS) to the Inclusive Innovation Industrialization Strategy (i3S), we enhanced our focus from competitiveness-centered to an innovation-driven industrialization strategy. We also refined it this year – given our pandemic experience – to science, technology and innovation-driven industrial strategy, which is important as we enter the post-pandemic future.” 

The discussion at the Summit revolved around the status of the Philippine manufacturing sector and the key policy legacies that have been enacted over the course of six years, for instance, the recently-enacted liberalization laws including the Amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RA 11595), Foreign Investments Act (RA 11647), and the Public Service Act (RA 11659); the newly-enacted Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (RA 11697); and, the recently-approved Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP).

The Summit substantially tackled as well the various initiatives, programs, and strategies of the government to support and bolster the country’s manufacturing sector as it mainstreams 4IR technologies. Among these are the now-enhanced i3S being championed by the DTI; the diverse programs of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to promote research and development (R&D) and beef up the semiconductor and electronics industry, and the food manufacturing industry; and, the initiatives of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to prepare the country’s workforce as it transitions towards 4IR.

In her presentation, Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), underscored that innovation in the manufacturing sector is envisaged to avoid the unwanted futures of “masakuna” (distress and disasters), “langit at lupa” (wider inequalities), and “mabagal” (slow to change). In this regard, the aim is to establish agile societies that are quick to adopt to new environment, and ultimately, to attain our wanted future of “matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay” as embodied in the AmbisyonNatin 2040.  

Undersecretary Aldaba emphasized the critical role of the government in addressing the major challenges faced by the industries including the intense competition from imports in the domestic market, the need to improve capacity of domestic industries to expand market reach, and the need to attract more investments. “The role of the government is going to be crucial in addressing the three challenges. There are gains from the trade liberalization as well as the competition that could emerge from the liberalization, but these gains are not automatic…as there will be market failures, coordination failures; hence, the role of the government would be crucial, we need to have an industrial policy in place.”

Moreover, she echoed that the recently-enacted liberalization laws will play a crucial role in our recovery and growth. Further, the implementation of i3S and all the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) regulatory reforms could lead to improvements in competitiveness and productivity of domestic firms and strengthen linkages with foreign affiliates and global value chains (GVC) participation, among others.

For Secretary Lopez, “i3S has been our north star in all of DTI’s policies and programs in the past six years. We are backed by the economic evidence that a modern manufacturing sector is key to sustained and inclusive growth, rapid job creation, and poverty reduction. In doing so, we recognized that a business-as-usual industrial strategy is not enough, especially when faced by dynamic challenges such as intensifying competition, Industry 4.0, and more recently, a global pandemic. Hence, we needed a more vigorous industrial policy that would not only address the binding constraints, but for government to actively ensure that our industries will embrace science, technology, and innovation. Our straightforward aim has been to grow a globally competitive and innovative manufacturing sector, as well as agriculture and services that have strong linkages to regional and global value chains.”

Finally, the event also witnessed and welcomed the momentous signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Strengthening Collaboration and Cooperation on Innovation between the DTI and the US-ASEAN Business Council. The MOU encompasses the following areas of commitment for public-private sector consultation, collaboration, and cooperation: accelerated modernization and digital transformation across all industries; development of new creative industries; building a robust startup ecosystem and capacitating the MSMEs; and, expansion of e-commerce and digital trade; among others.

Date of Release: 30 June 2022