Region VII – Central Visayas (Cebu)

The conference in Region VII was held on December 2, 2014 in Cebu City and focused on the carrageenan/seaweed, processed fruit (dried mangoes), furniture, and IT-BPM industries.

DTI Region VII Director Asteria Caberte welcomed the participants to the conference, followed by the keynote address from DTI Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya. NEDA Region VII Assistant Director Dionisio Ledres presented on the potentials and challenges in the region.


L to R: IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) Executive Director for Finance Ronaldo Arambulo, NEDA Region VII Asst. Regional Director Dionisio Ledres, DTI Region VII Director Asteria Caberte, DTI Undersecretary Zenaida Cuison-Maglaya, DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba, PIDS Senior Fellow Dr. Roehlano Briones, USAID Trade Senior Adviser Dr. Ramon Clarete.

In her keynote address, DTI Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya highlighted the need for the Philippine economy to undergo structural transformation – a shift from agriculture-based and services-led economic growth to a more pervasive and sustainable development catalyzed through industrial upgrading – in order to enhance its competitiveness and realize the country’s growth potential. This entails the effective collaboration between the public and private sectors within the regions and proper coordination with national agencies. It should also involve the synergy between the academe – particularly research institutions – and industry.

Usec. Maglaya cited the relevant initiatives and interventions being undertaken by the government – the Industry Roadmapping Project, the Manufacturing Resurgence Program, and the formulation of the Comprehensive Industrial National Strategy. In addition, she noted the continuing commitment of the DTI to develop the country’s SMEs to improve employment generation particularly in the regions through the DTI’s the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program, SME Roving Academy, and the revival of the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises project.


DTI Asst. Sec. Aldaba talked about the Philippine new industrial policy.

DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba discussed the country’s new industrial policy, while USAID TRADE Senior Adviser Dr. Ramon Clarete talked about the AEC and the Philippine economy. Other speakers included PIDS Senior Fellow Dr. Roehlano Briones, Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) President Nicolass de Lange, IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) Executive Director Ronaldo Arambulo, and UA&P Center for Food And Agribusiness Specialists Florence Sevilla and Ditas Macabasco.

The key points of the conference are as follows:

  1. The Philippines is already participating in the AEC, with the reduction since 2010 to zero of tariffs of almost all commodities traded in the region. More importantly, the country is strongly positioned for 2015 because of its recent economic performance – higher trajectory of growth, improving business climate, and increasing competitiveness. Though the country must consistently grow above 6% for the next 5 years to keep attracting investments, the resurgence of the manufacturing sector is among the best news that guarantees the sustainability of its economic growth.
  2. The AEC promises the sharing of technology, higher productivity, and stronger interdependence among ASEAN nations – more complementation than competition. Businesses should be ready and willing to change their mindset and business models in order to take advantage of the opportunities in AEC. While admittedly, some will benefit more than others in the AEC, in balance and despite its downsides, the AEC will offer opportunities for PH firms to be more competitive and reinvent themselves for higher productivity. Nonetheless, SMEs really have to be a part of the process for AEC 2015 to work. There will be no inclusive growth without SMEs.
  3. To attain inclusive growth and take advantage of the opportunities from the AEC and globalization in general, enhancing our competitiveness through industrial upgrading is crucial. The best way to achieve these is to implement a new industrial policy, which implies a more pro-active government that acts as facilitator and coordinator in addressing the most binding constraints to industry development. It also calls for the clustering of industries and allied industries, industry upgrading through growth-oriented action, and the deepening of Philippine participation in regional production networks and global value chains. While there would be challenges to implementation, the private sector, in coordination with government, must participate in the economy’s structural transformation by driving industrial upgrading through the crafting of regional roadmaps. These roadmaps will indicate their goals and vision for their industries and identify their strategies to reach realize these, taking into consideration their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The formulation of the regional roadmaps is an essential step towards the development of the Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy.
  4. While it is in itself already a vibrant economic region – with export-oriented industries, marketable tourist destinations, well-connected to the region via air and sea transport, and superior design culture – Region VII still has to address its concerns with low productivity, the lack of full and decent employment, jobs mismatch, high cost of doing business, quality of inter-modal transport infrastructure, underutilization of FTA, weak industry networks, reviving the agricultural sector, and providing adequate and stable power supply. A way forward is to adopt a cluster-based framework approach of “competition-innovation-production” in order to transform industry structure and create high productivity jobs in: manufacturing, shipbuilding, software development, and animation design.

Stakeholders from industry, SMEs. local government agencies, the academe, and the media were present.



Panel speakers, L to R: Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines President Nicolaas De Lange, IBPAP Exec. Dir. Ronald Arambulo, UA&P Agribusiness Specialists Florence Sevilla and Ditas Macabasco.

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