MANILA CITY– On 22 November 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Fred Pascual outlined the DTI’s strategic initiatives to bolster the country’s economic growth trajectory amidst domestic and global challenges during the Pilipinas Conference 2023 held at The Peninsula Manila. He discussed the Department’s efforts to strengthen trade promotion and enhance investment attraction aligned with the country’s trajectory as a burgeoning business and industrial hub in the region. 

Secretary Pascual underscored, “In the face of domestic and global economic headwinds, we at the DTI are working to uphold our country’s growth trajectory through strategic programs and initiatives.” 

The DTI chief discussed the Department’s Science, Technology, and Innovation-driven Industrialization Strategy, coupled with the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2023-2028 as framework for sustained economic growth and development. He also presented the Inclusive Filipinnovation and  Entrepreneurship Roadmap (IFER) as a pioneering initiative encompassing cutting-edge approaches. Under IFER, he outlined initiatives such as establishing Regional Inclusive Innovation Centers (RIICs). Additionally, he emphasized that IFER will facilitate the digital transformation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through leveraging e-commerce platforms and adopting Industry 4.0 technologies. 

Further, the trade and industry chief presented the plan to establish a DTI Innovation Gateway in Manila, poised to be a beacon of integrated innovation with the support of a  loan program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He highlighted that this gateway will foster collaboration and partnerships between government, enterprises, and academia, developing technological advancements and partnerships. 

The DTI Secretary also emphasized on several initiatives undertaken by the DTI to embark on new opportunities and harness untapped potentials on a global market scale. He reported the recent enactment of the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA), aimed at boosting creative sectors and cultivating growth opportunities in the global value chain. Further, he discussed the formation of a nine-agency task force to strengthen the Philippine halal industry. He added that through  the Special Task Force on Halal Industry Developement, the country’s Halal industry will have a more significant share in the 7 trillion USD global Halal market, spanning diverse sectors, from food and pharmaceuticals to tourism and fashion, within the 57 member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

Meanwhile, on trade promotions, Secretary Pascual stressed the DTI’s commitment to the PEDP 2023-2028 by enhancing Philippine export competitiveness. He added that this will be achieved through strategic actions focused on resolving production constraints, fostering an innovative export ecosystem, and increasing the country’s visibility in global markets. 

The DTI chief also highlighted the pivotal role of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, citing participation in agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA) Second Protocol, and the Philippines-South Korea (PH-ROK) FTA. He emphasized that forging these foreign trade agreements has opened new markets and ensured preferential tariff commitments for the country. 

Moreover, on investment promotion, the trade and industry chief discussed recent economic liberalization laws and policy reforms, enhancing the Philippines’ attractiveness to local and foreign investors. He also presented efforts to harness the Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) in administering investment incentives, amplifying the value proposition of the Philippines as an ideal investment hub. and improving the ease of doing business in the Philippines. 

Highlighting the role of collaboration in building an inclusive and resilient economy, Secretary Pascual stressed, “Collectively, we can craft a narrative of hope for our nation’s inclusive and resilient development. We want every Filipino to enjoy the rewards of our combined progress. Let us all make this happen in the Philippines!” 

The Pilipinas Conference 2023, themed “Economic Outlook and Strategies for 2024,” is an annual event organized by the think tank Stratbase ADR Institute. The event highlights significant insights from top economic managers. Moreover, it aims to chart a course for inclusive economic growth, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and effective policies to address global economic challenges. ♦

Date of release: 23 November 2023