THE Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 has drafted a list of action plans on various sectors of the region to cushion the impact of Association of Southeast Asean Nations (Asean) economic integration in 2015.
“To maximize the opportunities and mitigate the challenges, the region decided to organize a task force to study the impact of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on various sectors of the region and to recommend safety nets,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Director Asteria Caberte.
The task force is led by the DTI and has as members the Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and National Economic and Development Authority. They conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) for sectors like retail trade, creative, manufacturing, tourism, logistics, information and communications technology (ICT), food and agriculture.
“The task force looked at how Cebu can effectively be part of the regional value chain. We have so far conducted seven out of the planned 10 AEC FGDs,” said Caberte.
She said that in order to flourish within the Asean community, Central Visayas and the Philippines need to focus more on competitiveness, people development, innovation, regulatory reforms and most especially, a change in mindset.
“Given the challenges of the integration such as competitive pressures, scarcity of talents needed for growth and brain drain, the region chose to focus more on the opportunities,” she said.
Part of the action plan for the retail sector is a massive information and education campaign on AEC not only to retail players or business institutions but also to consumers. Another is the passage of an enabling law to regulate the high cost of displaying products in stores, as the current cost is not conducive to small and medium enterprises retailers.
The group is looking at creating a tripartite council that can address issues on high freight, logistics and operating costs. To ensure quality and to easily detect counterfeit items, the group also agreed that all products must have ICC and PS marks. They also pledged to work on providing low interest rates and shorter processing time of loans especially for SMEs.
As for the creative sector, Caberte said the group will work on mobilizing organizations like the different professional associations and councils to get involved in the sector’s development, provide access to capital for startups and organize financing and funding opportunities for the emerging industry.
To make the manufacturing sector more competitive, part of the action plan include the increased investments in renewable energy; educate farmers on the supply chain; increased investments in research and development centers; establish common service facilities; and capacitate SMEs on entrepreneurial skills.
Government support on infrastructure like farm to market roads and investment on post harvest facilities and more trainings and seminars on organic farming are also necessary to help the food and agriculture sector survive the integration. KOC