11 sectors prioritized in Asean economic integration

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014


THERE are 11 sectors that are being prioritized by the Asean Economic Community and the Philippine government hopes businesses will find a way to be linked to these sectors to benefit from economic integration.

Senen Perlada, director of the Export Marketing Bureau under the Department of Trade and Industry, identified these sectors, namely: agro-based products, automotives, electronics, fisheries, rubber-based products, textiles and wood-based products for goods, and air transport, e-Asean, healthcare, logistics and tourism for services. The Asean secretariat says these sectors account for more than 50 percent of intra-Asean trade.

Perlada said local companies that want to take advantage of opportunities that can be available to them should find a way to be part of these sectors.

SMEs

Large companies, he said, should try to include small companies into their value and supply chains to help them grow. “The big players can bring the SMEs onboard and help them to become indirect exporters by telling them the global requirements.”

He also hopes businesses can find a way to cooperate to meet larger demands.

Perlada also stressed the need for companies to be more knowledgeable of cultures other than western, saying this new market will have different preferences.

He noted that most entrepreneurs are focused on the idea of Asean becoming a single market base that they tend to forget about the idea of the region becoming a single production base.

Rather than fiercely competing with one another, Perlada said forming strategic alliances and partnerships will allow enterprises to flourish under economic integration. This, he said, is where small and medium enterprises can go big.

He said that with the way business is currently being done, entrepreneurs should understand that the competitors can also be their market.

As an example, he noted that the top source of wood in the country is sourced from Canada, which does not have a free trade agreement with the Philippines.

He hopes local industries will try to find a way to source materials from around the Asean region at zero tariffs so they can be cheaper and offer more competitive prices, rather than just seeing other countries as competitors of their industry.

“Aspire to be modern, but not necessarily western. Be relational, rather than transactional.” He also said entrepreneurs should “think Asean, think global and act local.” He added that many businesses are too focused on the United States, Europe and Japan that they fail to see other bigger potential markets such as India, which has a widening middle class.

Important role

Perlada reminded the private sector that they have the most important role in integration, saying the government can only do so much in terms of setting policies and regulations.

“The best defense is offense. Have a mindset that is not within your comfort zone. Foreign competitors inevitably come in and you can’t expect globalization and regionalization to adapt to you.”

Asked what sectors he believes the Philippines can excel in, he mentioned coconuts, which can tie up with Indonesia to serve the world’s demand for coconut and all its byproducts.

He also believed the Philippines will do well in fisheries because of its archipelagic nature, carageenan, and food products, which overseas Filipinos around the world can help market.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 03, 2014.

Business

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