I greet Her Excellency, the United States Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, USAID officials, my colleagues in government, private sector representatives—good afternoon to you all.

On behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry, I thank the U.S. Government for effectively supporting our initiatives of the Department. Among our partnerships with USAID are as follows:

  1. USAID-RESPOND assisted DTI and the government in developing our National Logistics Strategy; 
  2. USAID-DELIVER supported us in building infrastructure that improves economic activities; and
  3. USAID-BEACON helped us in securing internet servers and enabling satellite services.

With SPEED, the program or project we’re launching today, USAID is now DTI’s partner in empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through digital transformation.

One of DTI’s strategic initiatives is to upgrade, upscale, and upsize SMEs. To scale SMEs, it is critical to assist them in overcoming constraints to technology access. We want to make it easier for SMEs to embrace digital transformation. SPEED, I believe, is in line with DTI’s efforts to strengthen the SME capacities for the digital economy.

Digitalized SMEs can operate efficiently, reduce costs, reach larger markets, and achieved higher profits. For example, digital systems can collect digitized data on enterprise transactions, use these data for credit scoring, and make cash flow-based credit more accessible. However, digitalizing SMEs differs from digitalizing larger enterprises. And it is here that we can see the relevance and specificity of SPEED in helping MSMEs in particular, to integrate itself into the digital economy.

DTI shares SPEED’s goal of increasing SMEs’ use of e-payment platforms. Also, major initiative of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. As an active partner of BSP in the Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, was formulated. DTI works to digitalize retail payments and promote financial inclusion among Filipinos. Our E-Commerce Roadmap uses as metrics the number of adults with bank accounts and people who shop online. I am hopeful that SPEED will support DTI in reaching these related targets.

To digitalize supply chains that include SMEs, DTI has the Big Brother-Small Brother Digitalization Project. We have also identified the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal Incorporated (NVAT) as a pilot for implementing an end-to-end e-commerce platform in the agricultural sector. NVAT serves most of the Cagayan Valley Region’s vegetable needs, as well as the needs of the rest of Luzon and Metro Manila. USAID-SPEED may consider technical support toward digitalized supply chains and efficient logistics from farm to fork, including via NVAT.

On the policy front, DTI anticipates the passage of the Internet Transactions Act (ITA). ITA strengthens consumer protection. It establishes, among other things, merchant rights and responsibilities, more defined liabilities for parties in the online transactions, and an E-Commerce Bureau in the Department of Trade and Industry.

With DTI and USAID’s joint successes in enhancing logistics and improving connectivity, we have built a dependable and productive partnership that can serve as a foundation for us to achieve our shared goal of digitalizing SMEs. Together, we can strengthen SME capacities, increase SMEs’ use of e-payment platforms, reinforce SMEs’ integration in logistics supply chains, and contribute to consumer protection.

Best wishes to USAID SPEED! I anticipate the success of this project as we continue working on future collaborations. Thank you!

Date of release: 11 January 2023