The Philippines and Japan is further enhancing their bilateral relations aimed at supporting the Philippine initiatives towards industrial development and competitiveness as representatives from the two countries recently (March 23, 2017) held its Industrial Cooperation Dialogue (ICD) at the Board of Investments (BOI) Building in Makati City.

Trade Undersecretary for Industry Development and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo, Trade Assistant Secretary for Industry Development Rafaelita Aldaba, and BOI Executive Director for Industry Development Services Ma. Corazon Halili-Dichosa led the Philippine panel. Joining them were representatives from the Department of Science and Technology, National Economic and Development Authority, Technical Education Skills Development Authority, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Multilateral Trade System Department Director General Tetsuya Watanabe and METI Trade Policy Bureau Director for ASEAN Bilateral Relations Kunimitsu Masui meanwhile led the panel from Japan. Private sector stakeholders from the Philippine automotive, aerospace, gaming, software, animation, and e-vehicle industries and representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) also participated in the dialogue.

PH, Japan enhance relations, eye closer collaboration on industrial development and competitiveness

Top photo shows Undersecretary Rodolfo (front row, third from left) delivering his remarks at the opening of the ICD, while bottom photo shows Director General Watanabe (front row, middle) responding to a remark at the dialogue.

In his opening remarks, Undersecretary Rodolfo highlighted the importance of the ICD as a mechanism for the Philippine aspiration to become a manufacturing and human resource development hub in the region, with the assistance and cooperation of Japan.

In 2015, the two countries signed the Industrial Cooperation Action Plan to focus on supply chain analysis, technical and institutional capacity building, creating partnerships between industry groups in Japan and in the Philippines, and investment promotion to deepen Philippine participation in global value chains.

“The ICD is an opportunity for closer collaboration between the two countries as we look forward for new ideas and fresh insights especially in the field of manufacturing, regional development, [the ]IT-BPM sector, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and human resource development (HRD),” said Undersecretary Rodolfo.

“The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in the ASEAN region and has the potential for further economic development. This affirms the growing interest of Japanese firms in some industries that will allow for more investments and joint ventures in the future. This will allow both countries to intensify its bilateral relationship, strengthen industrial cooperation, jointly promoting innovation and entrepreneurship,” DG Watanabe said.

In response to METI’s presentation on a proposed Industrial Development Vision for the Philippines, Assistant Secretary Aldaba noted that it is closely aligned with the new Philippine industrial policy and ongoing government strategic actions towards developing globally competitive and innovative manufacturing industries. The proposal will be further refined through continuing consultation between both sides and finalized within the year.

The ICD covered five major areas: manufacturing, including the participation by Toyota Motors and Mitsubishi Motors in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program; regional development; services industry; MSMEs and start-ups; and industrial human resource development and cooperation.

Among the presentations from the Japanese side included the progress reports by the team of consultants from Nomura Research Institute on two ongoing projects funded by JICA. The first is on elaborating industrial promotion plans for the automotive and auto electronics industries using value chain analysis, while the second is on studying potential industry and further economic development in Central Luzon and Calabarzon. A third project on industrial human resource development is currently under development. For JETRO, Executive Director Tomohiro Ando reported on the positive results of missions of Japanese companies interested to invest in the Philippines.

The ICD was also a venue for the Philippine side to offer opportunities for local industries where Japan can consider possible areas of cooperation. BOI Executive Director Dichosa presented on the potentials of the Philippine aerospace industry; Philippine Software Industry Association President Jonathan de Luzuriaga talked about the IT-BPM industry; and E-Vehicle Association of the Philippines President Mr. Roberto Cruz discussed the training support needed for the electric vehicles industry. Assistant Secretary Aldaba also requested the Japanese side to consider working with the Philippines in establishing an innovation ecosystem in the country that could foster cooperation between Japanese and Philippine companies, especially start-ups, in the use of the Internet-of-Things to develop products and services.

“With specific areas of concern and issues identified along with the proposed solutions and cooperation, this has been a very fruitful discussion and we look forward to a continuing dialogue with Japan in the future to further foster our strong relationship and partnership in developing our manufacturing sector,” Undersecretary Rodolfo said in closing the dialogue session.

The ICD was established to review the progress of the Philippine-Japan Industrial Cooperation Action Plan by discussing the priority issues in the automotive, manufacturing, and services industries, and the concerns related to the growth of micro, small, and medium-enterprises and improving the business environment in the Philippines.