TRADE Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. remains optimistic that the Philippines will continue to grow strong over the years, amid the change in political leadership this month.
“We believe we have already set the foundation. We are confident that the performance of our country in the past years already ensures sustainable growth, not only in the years, but decades to come,” said Cristobal during his keynote message at the opening of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-led Negosyo, Konsyumer ATBP for Central Visayas at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.
Cristobal anchored his optimism on the 6.2-percent average economic growth of the country in the past five years; the comeback of the manufacturing sector, which is now growing at 8.2 percent; and the graduation of the country’s image from being “the sick man of Asia” to “Asia’s new tiger.”
“We believe that this (economic growth) is already sustainable,” he said. The DTI chief’s confidence also stemmed from President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s eight-point economic agenda, which he believes sent a clear signal of continued economic policies that have contributed to the remarkable growth of the country.
Duterte’s economic agenda includes continuing and maintaining the current macroeconomic policies. The new administration also vowed to ensure attractiveness of the Philippines to foreign investors, and enhance competitiveness in doing business in the country.
While the DTI has been going on full speed to address all sentiments of businessmen and investors through programs and better services, Cristobal emphasized the role of the private sector, being one the main drivers of economic growth.
He said that if regions like Central Visayas remain united and continue to maximize all that is given by the government, a robust local economy is expected.
“The government tries to build an ecosystem but it is the private sector that is the driver of growth,” said Cristobal.
Central Visayas is the fourth largest local economy, now with a gross regional domestic product valued at P406 billion that comprises close to six percent of the total national output. In 2014, the region grew by 8.8 percent driven mainly by the services and industry sectors.
In the past six years, the region grew at an average of nine percent, faster than the whole economy at 6.2 percent on the average a year. Cristobal said the robust growth of the region is primarily driven by tourism and business process management, which are both dollar-earner industries and are among the biggest employment generators of the country. These two sectors are also big markets for retailers, real estate and hotels.
In terms of investments, the Board of Investments posted P29.5 billion for Central Visayas, which, according to Cristobal, is almost three times the approved investments in 2014. This covers a total of 26 projects —eight in mass housing, five in manufacturing, three in tourism related investments, six in renewable energy, infrastructure, shipping and agribusiness.
To make sure growth is also felt on the ground, Cristobal said that DTI has also deployed a total of 83 shared service facilities (SSF) in the region, ranging from food processing to weaving to capacitate micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in various communities.
Yesterday, the agency brought to Cebu the Negosyo, Konsyumer ATBP, a project that brings closer the focused and integrated menu of DTI services and programs to the MSME sector.
The four-day event, which runs from June 9 to 11, covers a series of seminars, trade fairs, trainings and consultations. It targets to help MSMEs, known as the backbone of the economy, cope with challenges they face in their respective business operations and to improve competitiveness.
The event also aims to increase the level of awareness of consumers on their rights and responsibilities and the business sector on their compliance to the prescribed laws and policies.