2015 ‘year to be competitive’

IF 2014 was focused on livelihood rehabilitation, this year’s efforts will be geared toward making the different industries “more competitive,” said an official of the Department of Trade and Industry.

DTI 7 Director Asteria Caberte, in a recent interview, said the Asean Economic Community (AEC) this year should push enterprises to become more competitive versus neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

AEC comes into full force this year in 10 Asean-member countries, including the Philippines. It was six years in the making and was preceded by phased liberalization in trade in goods, investments and services.

In previous interviews, Caberte noted that the country should work more on “competitiveness, people development, innovation, regulatory reforms and most especially, a change in mindset.”

She stressed that the retail sector and the creative industry are two of the most competitive sectors that the region can be confident of. However, she said access to finance was identified as one of the biggest concerns among players in the creative sector, as well as its strong linkage to the commercial market.

2 most competitive

“Personally, I think, the retail sector and the creative industry are two of the most competitive sectors that the region has,” the official said at the sidelines of the Sinulog Trade Fair two weeks ago.

Cebu, alone, was identified as the creative hub of the Philippines.

In line with its goal for competitiveness, the Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 identified DTI as the lead of a task force study that will evaluate the impact of the AEC on various sectors of the region and the recommendation of safety nets.

Part of the action plan for the retail sector is a massive information and education campaign on AEC not only to retail players and other industry players 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-scale retailers.

In addition, 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.

Cebu’s creative industry is presently led by non-profit organization, the Creative Cebu Council which is composed of artists and creative entrepreneurs in the province.

Caberte earlier said that the group will help the creative industry find access to capital for startups and organize financing and funding opportunities for the emerging industry.

This year, DTI has an annual budget of P3.7 billion, lower than last year’s P4.7 billion. The biggest share will go to the Office of the Secretary at P3.2 billion. The rest is being shared by the Board of Investments (P257 million), Construction Industry of the Philippines (P84 million), Philippine Trade Training Center (P47 million) and Design Center of the Philippines (P75 million).
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