DOTC plans to expand Cebu, Iloilo, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro ports into fully containerized ports. It is also looking at an interconnected transport system, the addition of the new urban mass transit system, a bus rapid transport system for each of Cebu and Metro Manila and the revival of the Pasig River ferry system via private partnership in 2015.
“We are looking at amending the restrictive cabotage law in the Philippines to further bolster trade and lower the cost of shipping throughout our archipelago,” Limcaoco added.
This has been attributed by PIDS experts to the limited economic transformation, low levels of FDI, and lack of diversification of our export products.
The Foreign Buyers Association of the Philippines (FOBAP) is seeking government assistance to support the implementation of three projects worth P5 million in a bid to revive the garments and hardgoods industries in the country.
FOBAP president Robert Young said the funding would be used for mapping of garments and hardgoods sectors, the compliance program and “invite the CEO ” project.
Young explained that factories need to be compliant in implementing the requirements and regulations such of child labor, clean and safe environment and minimum wage.
He also cited the need for the revival of so-called “invite the CEO” project which proved effective in regaining foreign buyers.
Young recalled that such project was implemented during the 1970s when the country experienced crisis and foreign markets stopped buying.
With the implementation of these three projects, Young is optimistic that the garments sector can regain at least a fourth of all the jobs lost.
“We lost about 300,000 to 500,000 jobs in the past six to seven years in the garments sector alone. We just hope to get one-fourth of that or 150,000 to 200,000 jobs,” he said.
Young recalled that the Philippine garments industry reached peak revenues in mid ’80s to ’90s.
“The decline started when the US garments quota was lifted. China opened their international trade and other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Bangladesh followed. All of them quoted lower prices than the Philippines,” he added.
Philippine demand for gold and silver jewellery has started picking up in the second semester of the year, boosting hopes for a 30-percent revenue growth in 2013.
Cecille Ramos, chairman of the board of the Meycauayan Jewelry Industry Association (MJIA), said they received more orders since June after the prices of these metals went down.
“The prospect for the second half is good because the price of gold went down from P2,300 to P1,850 while that of silver from P45 to P28,” she said.
Ramos said many buyers, especially institutional ones, take advantage of lower prices of gold and silver this early in anticipation that costs will again increase through the Christmas holiday caused by higher demand. She expects that growth this would be higher than 2012 when gold prices reached a peak.
Ramos pointed out that demand in key export markets United States and Europe remains weak, while some exporter members turned to the local market and others resorted to retrenchment to survive weaker export sales.
Local jewelry producers also participate in more domestic trade fairs to get more buyers. “They are also promoting their products using social networking sites,” she said, citing a member which received more than a thousand orders after posting a product design on Facebook
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is road testing the B5 biofuel blend to determine its fuel economy and power efficiency. The new oil product contains 3 percent more coco methyl esther from its original 2% (B2) blend.
The second phase, from 2018 to 2021, will see a shift to high-value-added activities, investments in upstream industries as well as the linking and integrating of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises for broad-based industrial development.
The third phase, encompassing the years 2022-2025, envisions the Philippines’ deepening participation in regional integration by serving as hubs in production networks for industries like auto, electronics, machinery, garments, and food, Aldaba said.
The roadmap can be accomplished with an action plan for the successful transition of the country into a dominant production player in Asia.
The plan includes closing the supply or value-chain gaps for key industries, such as establishing supply hubs for raw and natural materials for the furniture sector, and increasing the tool and die sector’s access to raw materials, equipment, and software.
For the paper industry, focus can be on expanding the fiber raw material base and developing massive tree plantations and commercial agro-forestry areas integrated with virgin wood pulp production.
The second step is cultivating the domestic market base of the transport sector. This would entail providing fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to rebuild the domestic automotive market, implementing Republic Act 9295 mandating the retirement of old shipping vessels, and developing the local parts support industries for motorcycle assembly to reduce the high cost of importing these parts.
The third part of the action plan focuses on skills training. Aldaba said more training on design, tool making, prototyping, molding, and die-casting is needed in the auto parts and tools and die sectors, while the furniture sector has to upgrade the supervisory and managerial skills of its staff for improved productivity.
She suggested that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority could look into increasing vocational training activities for iron and steel workers, she added.
The action plan likewise highlighted the importance of the fourth step-SME development and technological innovation.
Aldaba urged greater support for SMEs’ development by providing them better access to finance, setting up incubation facilities, and clustering these sectors: auto parts, motorcycle parts, furniture, rubber, metal casting, tools and die, chemicals, iron, and steel.
Establishing quality-testing facilities will likewise bolster the small auto and auto parts, motorcycle assembly, motorcycle parts, furniture, and rubber enterprises.
Supporting R&D facilities and industry-academe linkages for new product development can boost the metal casting, tools and die, engineered bamboo, rubber, iron and steel, chemicals, furniture, paper, and plastics industries.
This four-pronged action plan should be complemented by aggressive marketing to attract investments particularly in new technologies, measures to address the high cost of power and domestic shipping, regulations to streamline and automate government procedures, and steps to ensure a competitive exchange rate, Aldaba continued.
At the same time, there should be a mechanism where government, industry, and private groups can collaborate on cluster-based interventions to increase supply of skilled workers, encourage technology adoption, and improve regulations and infrastructure.
Aldaba drew up the roadmap following several consultations with private and government stakeholders from January to July 2013.