INFORMATION technology-business-process manangement (IT-BPM) includes construction and engineering services outsourcing. The Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) would like to help the Philippine construction sector to be the world’s leading provider of construction service. Loring said there is more value in providing nonvoice services, like software development and construction and engineering services. She said the services sector has no tariff, unlike goods.
Participants were advised to expand their knowledge on the World Trade Organization (WTO), specifically its classification, the W120, to familiarize them to which subsectors they can engage to. Philippine exporters should maximize the benefit in accessing free-trade agreements (FTAs). They should be aware on how they would access FTAs, part of the EMB service to exporters. In the region, there is now the so called Asean Trade in Services Agreement.
Statistics showed more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing power is located outside the US. In services, there is a lot of construction opportunities, such as in Macau, Dubai and other Middle East countries building high-rise hotels and casinos.
Loring said India is aggressively moving commercialization by developing nonindustrialized areas, like Calcutta, and building a commercial complex and business zones, which the Philippine construction industry can also look into and take advantage of. In Calcutta there is a proliferation of global companies building their business centers from various parts of the world. The Philippine construction has an agreement mentioned in Asean-India for sewerage and environmental services related to construction and engineering.
The Philippines also has construction and mining, financial and technical agreements with Korea.
Negotiations under the Regional Comprehensive Agreement (RCEP) are ongoing. Loring said under the RCEP, Korea, China, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand are added to the 10-member Asean who will be enjoying regional free trade.
In New Zealand up to 100 citizens of each country aged 18 to 30 are already allowed to work or study in the country during a 12-month stay. The scheme would enable Filipinos holding tourist visas to work while on holiday in New Zealand.
The primary challenge for the construction sector in regional economic integration is the recognition of professional licenses and of competencies, now being negotiated under the quality framework of the Mutual Recognition Agreement; and high costs of taking the licensure examination for professionals in the Philippines. The Philippines is working on the alignment of qualifications framework with other partner economies so that Philippine service providers’ qualifications are aligned with theirs. The Philippines’s Technical Education and Services Development Authority qualifications and requirements are patterned after those of Australia, which is also considered a best practice in skills development.
Loring said the construction industry can benefit from economies of scale. It can rise up the global-value chain by strengthening research and development (R&D) and investing in innovation. A step taken in this direction is by Philippine higher education, which now requires a continuing development program for engineers and other professionals to encourage R&D and innovation.
THE EMB is mandated to oversee the development, promotion and monitoring of Philippine exports. It provides would-be exporters and exporters the enabling environment to make them globally competitive.
To be continued •