Equipped to compete: Growing global MSMEs for inclusive development
Business Mirror
September 28, 2016

INNOVATION in communications and transportation has dramatically lowered the overall barrier to entry for small firms.  These global market trends have significantly contributed to the development of the Philippines’s buzzing start-up community and a thriving micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector. Notwithstanding, MSMEs still face large gaps in productivity and have yet to fully take advantage of internationalization. Studies have also concluded that MSMEs are more likely to survive if they export.

Surveys have shown that as MSMEs attempt to internationalize, they often encounter important barriers. These barriers are complex and can be both internal to a particular firm or emanate from the larger business environment in which MSMEs operate, including trade-policy barriers and availability of market intelligence to enter new markets.

Fostering an environment where MSMEs can thrive in today’s dynamic and growing innovation economy has been at the forefront of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) programs. As part of the DTI’s Industry Promotion Group (IPG), the Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) connects trading businesses of Philippine companies and foreign investors with their counterparts. This task is primarily carried out by professionals called commercial attaches or commercial counselors present in 26 key cities in 20 countries across Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Asia and the Pacific.

In partnership with DTI units and other partner agencies, the FTSC has been a strategic arm of the DTI tasked to promote Philippine exports and investments, gather commercial intelligence, and assist in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.

Foreign Trade Service officers provide technical advice to government and private-sector stakeholders and aid in market research and due diligence, as they monitor government regulations and identify trade barriers and opportunities in their particular country of assignment. As trade and investment-promotion officers, they are responsible for conducting information campaigns, buyers and investor counseling, business matching, and implementation of inbound and outbound missions and trade shows.

Recognizing the strategic value of market information to Philippine businesses, this section of “Export Unlimited” shall be another avenue to keep exporters abreast of the trends and developments in global markets, giving exporters the opportunity to expand their business and enable them to make informed decisions.□

Maria Roseni Alveror, Assistant Secretary, Foreign Trade Service Corps, Department of Trade and Industry