UNPRECEDENTED access to global opportunities awaits the local business community as 10 Southeast Asian economies fully integrate into one economic bloc this year. But for Cebu’s business leaders, disregarding what is local is not part of the global equation.

For Francis Dy, Cebu Business Month 2015 chair, becoming globally competitive means using local solutions to meet the challenges of the global market.

“While we geared ourselves to be globally competitive, this does not mean that we should already ignore our local talents, our capabilities, and our resources to the detriment of our nation’s strengths,” Dy said during the 2015 CBM opening salvo at the Ayala Center Cebu Terraces last Friday.

“In fact, our local solutions will enable us to meet global challenges because our own ingenuity, creativity, and innovations shall bring us to greater heights if only we embrace cooperation, collaboration and strategic alliances with our industry partners and our Asean neighbors,” he added. (Asean stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.)

For this year, CBM, which is held every June, adopted the theme “Glocalized Cebu: Local Solutions to Global Challenges.”

Preserving identity

“This is our response to the Asean Economic Integration 2015. We have to connect with our Asean neighbors and the world of business. We have to be globally competitive without losing our sense of national identity, our local talents, skills, capacities and resources for Cebu’s business to grow and reach new heights.

CBM 2015 will make it possible for us to capitalize on opportunities in an increasingly borderless global economy,” said Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Maria Teresa Chan.

Chan said this year’s activities will highlight sectors like tourism, information and communications technology and business process management (ICT-BPM), entrepreneurship, and creative industries. Events will afford industry players a chance to network with both local and international businesses.

Cebu Holdings Inc. (CHI) President Anecito Bisnar, in his speech, advised colleagues in the business community to “strike a balance” between global and local.

He said CHI and Ayala do this is by integrating “global solutions” in their business operations by first strengthening their local partnerships with stakeholders.

“By optimizing our business strategies, with our pool of local talent and resources, we see Cebu to be competitive in the global market,” Bisnar added.

While much attention has been paid to the global market, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said during the launch, the domestic market should be a prime consideration, including its role as a safety net should international markets falter.

The governor pointed to the need for better access to low-interest financing for Cebu’s small and medium enterprises.

Most importantly, he said, the top focus should be on improving the quality of education, which he described as “the most important vaccine against inequality.”

While the Philippines has become one of the fasting growing economies, poverty incidence remains high at 25.8 percent as of the first half of 2014. This is higher than the National Government’s target of 23 to 25 percent.

Cebu was recently identified by the National Economic and Development Authority as one of the provinces in the country with a high number of poor households.

Despite these facts, the international community remains optimistic about the country’s growth. HSBC has forecast that the Philippine economy is set to become the 16th largest economy in the world, fifth largest economy in Asia, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia by 2050.