02 December 2020 via Facebook Live

Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!

We would like to give a huge welcome to everyone attending the Metro Fiesta Online Fair 2020!

The Metro Fiesta event is the annual regional trade fair of the National Capital Regional Office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-NCRO) started in 2017 and has been ongoing ever since. But with the pandemic, what would normally be a physical event has been adjusted to the “New Normal” with a transition to online to ensure our people’s health and safety.

While the health of our nation is paramount, DTI is balancing this with the reopening of our economy in order to help companies affected by the pandemic, save jobs and employment, and revive consumer and business confidence. Already, the community quarantine lockdowns have now shifted to General Community Quarantine (or GCQ) or even Modified GCQ (MGCQ), which have allowed many businesses to operate from 50% to 100% operating capacity.

With the gradual reopening of our economy, we’ve seen signs of recovery with our GDP slowly improving from -16.5% in the 2nd quarter of this year to -11.5% in the 3rd quarter. What’s more, our unemployment rate has eased to 10% last July from 17.7% in April, which was at the height of the lockdown. That means 2.7M Filipinos have recovered their jobs from three months ago.

Our merchandise exports have also climbed back to 2.2% last September 2020 from a low of -50.8% last April 2020. Furthermore, Net Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the Philippines is up by 41% as of July 2020. These signs should give hope to our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that our country is now on the road to economic recovery.

DTI knows that our MSMEs still need our support during these challenging times, which is why we are launching today’s regional trade fair. This event is the major and culminating component of our One Town, One Product (OTOP) Next Gen program, which features the best and finest crafts in processed food, wearable, and home décor sectors from MSMEs in Metro Manila.

We are confident that the Metro Fiesta will ably serve as an online platform for our NCR MSMEs, given how previous physical events had helped participating MSMEs back then. In 2017, the 91 exhibitors had managed to generate Php3.86M in cash sales during that year’s event. In 2018, the event had 119 exhibitors, who generated Php9.63M in cash sales. Last year, the 118 participants had generated Php12.9M in cash sales.

The MSMEs that are participating this year were also assisted in the same way as previous year’s participants under the “Act, Consultation, Triage Session” of OTOP and Kapatid Mentor Me (ME) programs. Furthermore, the “Manila experience” of the Metro Fiesta as our website has been created with the help of our partner, Unionbank GlobalLinker. MSMEs will be creating their individual LinkerStores for free, which buyers can easily navigate through. Ito po ay tutulungan din ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at ng CITEM.

To highlight the importance of the Metro Fiesta as a regional trade fair, we would remind everyone that while more than 99% of total establishments are MSMEs generating 62.4% of total jobs in the country, 20.2% of total MSMEs are found in NCR.

Thus, DTI has other initiatives to assist our MSMEs during the pandemic. For example, the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program’s online Borrower Registration System (BRS) was reopened last August offering financial assistance to MSMEs affected by the pandemic. This program has Php10B in funds allocated under Republic Act (RA) No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (or BAYANIHAN 2).

What’s more, our CTRL+BIZ Reboot Now program offers free webinars to aid our MSMEs in harnessing the potential of digitalization. We also have a nationwide “Buy Local, Go Lokal!” campaign for Filipinos to patronize local businesses and local products. This will renew consumer confidence while also bolstering business confidence as local companies work to capture the growing demand for their products. This, in turn, will generate income for these businesses, and create more employment opportunities.

In conclusion, we wish the participating exhibitors good luck with today’s online launch of Metro Fiesta. Likewise, we hope that guests attending online will patronize the products and services of our MSMEs. Let us all work together in boosting our country’s economic recovery amidst the pandemic.

More importantly, let us hold on to hope that things are getting better now. Remember, we were there before—the second fastest growing economy—and now we can aim for a “Better Normal” instead of just adjusting to the “New Normal.” In this way, we can give our people a better and more comfortable quality of life as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.

Date of Release: 02 December 2020