Philippines vows to improve e-commerce

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The Philippines could further improve its world ranking in terms of readiness to support online shopping and business-to-consumer electronic commerce, according to Socio-economic, Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

Socio-economic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia told the Asia Pacific Forum 2017 on Thursday that faster and strategic roll-out of information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure in order to create more economic opportunities and meet the growing demand for structures and services, particularly in underserved areas.

The 2016 Philippine data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) indicate that 47.8 percent of respondents use the internet while 32 percent of households have internet access.

According to the 2016 data of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Philippines ranked 89th out of 137 countries worldwide in terms of readiness to support online shopping and other business-to-consumer electronic commerce.

The Philippines ranked 71st globally in the 2016 United Nations e-government development index with a 38.81 percent increase in the online service index and 54.67 percent increase in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index, according to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“ICT plays an important role in the everyday lives of Filipinos, an effective tool for nation-building and the power to foster inclusivity, enable security and efficiency, as well as strengthen connections between individuals, communities, and sectors,” says Sec. Pernia.

Sec. Pernia noted that in a recent discussion on digital economy of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), massive open online courses on both website and mobile platform were introduced to strengthen the

framework for the digital economy, capacitate consumers and improve the digital literacy and empowerment of individuals particularly in the fields of financial literacy, economic empowerment, education, and health.

“The use of technology to support financial services also known as Fintech is seen to bridge the gap between banks and the unbanked and underserved markets. The 2017-2018 Fintech report of Voyager and FINTQ by PLDT shows that majority of borrowers who access FINTQ’s digital platforms are from the provinces despite the concentration of financial services in Metro Manila.”

Sec. Pernia stressed that digital technology has the greatest potential in transforming the financial landscape in the Philippines. “The growth of the internet and increased mobile penetration increase access to financial institutions especially for those who live in rural areas,” he added.

He cited a good example the collaboration of FINTQ with Camalig Bank in Catanduanes where digital lending was introduced to teachers and personnel of local government units (LGUs) via the online platform Lendr.

“FINTQ and Camalig Bank were able to disburse a loan amount of at least P15 million to qualified individuals in several towns of Catanduanes through online transactions, eliminating the need to physically appear in the bank.”

Sec. Pernia says Fintech revolution reforms the finance world in terms of helping not only the financial and non-financial institutions but more significantly customers and the large economy.

“Fintech services in the Philippines enable traditional banks to bring efficient and affordable financial services to the unbanked and underserved through mobile money, digital lending, regulatory technology, insurance technology, digital payments, micro savings, micro investments, digital remittance, and other mobile-based technologies.”

Under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the Internet of Things (IoT) envisions a hyper-connected, digitally responsive society with the largest impact in healthcare, manufacturing, network industries including banking and financial institutions, and local governments.

“While IoT has great potential to support human, societal, and environmental development, several safeguards need to be put in place to ensure data protection and security,” Sec. Pernia added.

 

 

 

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Half of all Filipinos use online dating apps – YouGov

Half of all Filipinos have used the internet and online dating apps, while 41 percent of millennials say they would be embarrassed to admit that they had met their partner through online dating apps.

A new survey by YouGov showed that the use of internet and online dating apps among Filipino millennials rose by 56 percent, while 24 percent of Filipino baby boomers say the same. However, two-thirds of all respondents say they would not think of a couple that met online any differently.

About 71% know at least one couple who have met this way, while three-quarters of millennials know at least one couple who met online, six in ten baby boomers do.

YouGov said that online dating is now mainstream in the Philippines and online dating is an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Tinder and Filipino Cupid are the clear favorites in the Philippines, both scoring among the highest for both fame and respectability. Overall, more than six in ten respondents have heard of these services.

Tinder has the best reputation among those who have ever used online dating services, with 53% saying that it is considered respectable. Just 15% consider being not respectable, giving it a net score of +38 – the highest among all apps featured in the survey.

The services that are least well recognized among all respondents are also seen as the least respectable among those who have used online dating services, suggesting that popularity is key to success in the Filipino market.

Online dating is worth $2.2 billion in America alone, and Tinder boasts 26 million matches a day.

With half of all Filipinos that have used online dating services willing to pay for premium features, internet dating has done more in recent years than just shake off its stigma.

British beef is coming back to the Philippines after 20-year absence

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After a 20 year absence, British beef is coming back to the Philippines following the lifting of import restrictions by the Philippine government.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce says beef producers and distributors are starting to talk.

“Soon, I hope you’ll see British beef – the best beef in the world – on the supermarket shelves in the Philippines and on the menu when you come to fine establishments such as this one,” Ambassador Pruce told businessmen in Makati City.

Pruce also revealed that Jollibee, one of the Philippines’ largest fast-food chain will be opening its first restaurant in London next year.

“I’m thrilled that Jollibee will be opening their first restaurant in the UK next year. I am sure it will be a great success. And I think it is a tribute to the welcoming and supportive commercial environment the UK offers to overseas investors and to our thriving and expanding, catering sector,” says Pruce.

The UK and the Philippines have recently signed a memorandum of understanding to support the Philippines in the area of cyber security. “We have companies, like BT and BAe, with very strong experience and capabilities in designing cyber security systems.”

Pruce noted the strong bilateral ties between the UK and the Philippines. “At the heart of this lie the links between our peoples. We are fortunate to have 200,000 Filipinos living and working in the UK, making an enormous contribution to the country. 14,000 healthcare workers are in our own National Health Service, bringing their high level of professional qualification and strong caring skills to our country.

Nearly 200,000 Brits came to the Philippines on holiday last year. Over 17,000 have now settled in the Philippines.

Britain is the biggest EU investor in the Philippines with over £1billion in investments and the third largest in the world, behind only the US and Japan.  British exports in goods increased by 38% in 2015, while  UK total exports of goods and services to the Philippines in 2015 were £628M. Two-way trade stands at £ 1.4 billion.

Over 200 British companies are active the Philippines which include Unilever, Shell, HSBC, Standard Chartered, AstraZeneca, Diageo, Arup, Mott MacDonald, Atkins, Nasmyth, Dyson, JCB, Marks and Spencer, River Island and Halcrow and NATS.

 

 

ICTSI posts 10% rise in port operations revenue to US$835 million

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Manila-based International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has posted a 10 percent increase in revenue from port operations to over US$835 million in the first nine months of 2017.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) rose by 11 percent to US$390.3 million while net income attributable to equity holders of US$149.3 million, up five percent from the US$141.9 million earned in the same period last year due to the continuing ramp-up at the new terminal in Matadi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); strong operating income contribution from the terminals in Iraq, Mexico, Honduras, Brazil and Madagascar; and the one-time gain on the termination of the sub-concession agreement in Lagos, Nigeria.

ICTSI says the increase in net income was tapered by higher interest and financing charges, higher depreciation and amortization, start-up costs of the company’s terminal in Melbourne Australia and increase in the net loss at Sociedad Puerto Industrial Aguadulce S.A. (SPIA), its joint venture container terminal project with PSA International Pte Ltd. (PSA) in Buenaventura, Colombia, which increased from US$4.7 million in the first three quarters of 2016 to US$25.6 million for the same period in 2017 as the company started full commercial operations at the beginning of the year.

Excluding the one-time gain on the termination of the sub-concession agreement in Nigeria, consolidated net income attributable to equity holders would have been flat in the first nine months of 2017.

For the quarter ended September 30, 2017, revenue from port operations increased 11 percent from US$284.2 million to US$314.6 million.

ICTSI handled consolidated volume of 6.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the first nine months of 2017, six percent more than the 6.4 million TEUs handled in the same period in 2016.

The increase in volume was primarily due to continuing improvement in global trade activities particularly in the emerging markets, continuing ramp-up at ICTSI’s operations in Basra, Iraq, new services at Manzanillo, Mexico and contribution of new terminals in Matadi, DRC and Melbourne, Australia.

Philippine economy posts impressive 6.9% growth in 3rd quarter

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The Philippine economy posted an impressive 6.9 percent growth in the third quarter of 2017, one of the best performing economies in Asia, next to Vietnam’s 7.5 percent and ahead of China’s 6.8 percent and Indonesia’s 5.1 percent.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia says the Philippine economic growth surpassed market expectations, given the 6.6 percent consensus median estimate.

“With a year-to-date growth average at 6.7 percent, we are optimistic that we are on track in meeting the full-year target range of 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth domestic product (GDP) growth for 2017,” says Secretary Pernia.

Secretary Pernia attributed the Philippine growth performance to sustained strong growth in exports and improvements in public spending, which boosted the manufacturing subsector and the services sector.

“On the expenditure side, sustained recovery in public spending pushed growth during the quarter. Public consumption was up 8.3 percent on account of higher spending on personnel services with the rise in the base pay of civilian government employees and allowances of the military and uniformed personnel, as well as the filling-up and creation of positions at the Department of Education.”

Secretarty Pernia noted a sustained improvement in government spending in a run-up to the massive infrastructure program which will continually unfold in the months ahead.

“We see construction activities and public spending making a headway in line with the government’s aim to spend 5.3 percent of GDP this year for infrastructure and up to 7.4 percent by 2022.”

“Private consumer spending eased to 4.5 percent in the third quarter. But we expect a pick-up in household consumption in the last quarter of the year due to the holiday season.”

The Philippine government is working towards reforming the tax system under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act to be implemented as soon as it is enacted into law.

Secretary Pernia explained that the reformed tax system is simpler, fairer and more efficient that would increase the take-home pay of millions of Filipinos and adjust the excise taxes on certain products to generate income for the government.

“This tax reform package will fund about half of the government’s infrastructure program while providing relief to lower- and middle-income earners,” says Secretary Pernia.

 

8 Philippine airports gain OAG on-time performance star ratings

Eight Philippine airports have gained on-time performance (OTP) star ratings from the Official Aviation Guide (OAG) 2016-2017.

The Iloilo International Airport in central Philippines was ranked 14th place with a star rating, besting Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Seoul Incheon International Airport and Hongkong International Airport.

Other Philippine airports that earned star ratings on OTP are NAIA, Bacolod, Davao, Tacloban, Laguindingan (CDO), Kalibo and Puerto Princesa.

The OTP star rating is designed to benchmark against set criteria, defined by industry and flight status information experts. OTP is measured across the whole year based on 12 months’ rolling performance.

To achieve an OTP star rating, the world’s airlines and airports must meet two criteria: all airlines and airports must have a minimum of 600 operations a month and OAG must receive flight status information for no less than 80 percent of scheduled flights within a 12-month period.

The OAG, an air travel intelligence company based in United Kingdom, provides digital information and applications to the world’s airlines, airports, government agencies and travel-related service companies.

OAG is best known for its airline schedules database which holds future and historical flight details for more than 900 airlines and over 4,000 airports.

PAL unveils Airbus A330 tailfin at corporate headquarters

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has recently unveiled an actual Airbus A330 tailfin, erected in front of PAL’s corporate headquarters in Pasay City, to symbolize PAL’s legacy to the country. It was a gift from Lufthansa Technik Philippines (LTP) – PAL’s aircraft maintenance service provider. The iconic PAL livery was first painted on a B747 in July 1986. Shown cutting the ceremonial ribbon are, from left, Ismael Augusto S. Gozon, PAL SVP for Airline Operations; Jaime J. Bautista, PAL President & COO; Elmar Lutter, LTP President; Dr. Lucio C.Tan, PAL Chairman & CEO; and Stewart Lim, PAL EVP-Treasurer.

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Philippine exports post 4.3% growth in September

Philippine exports in September 2017 posted a 4.3 percent growth compared to the same period last year, while imports grew by 1.7 percent.

Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon has expressed optimism that Philippine trade would sustain its growth in the last quarter of 2017 due to higher demand in the holiday season.

“The third quarter growth performance of several major economies such as the Eurozone, US, and China, reflects an upbeat outlook for the global economy,” says Edillon.

The country’s shipments to EU (40%) and ASEAN (7.6%) boosted the total receipts for the period.

Higher sales were recorded for top export markets such as US (4.9%), Hong Kong (29%) Germany (4.6%), Netherlands (70.8%), and Thailand (7.1%).

“We look forward to regional cooperation and integration being forwarded in APEC 2017 Vietnam and also in the 31st ASEAN meetings. We expect these initiatives to promote inter- and intra-regional trade and deepen engagement between regional blocs, as spelled out in the Philippine Development Plan ‎2017-2022, says Edillon.

 

Edillon noted that the call being made in APEC to establish a free-trade area in the Asia-Pacific will enhance trade and investment flows in the region and deepen ties among APEC member economies.

 

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council has urged the fast tracking of non-tariff measures, non-tariff barriers, and the ASEAN Single Window initiative to further ease doing business in the region.

Philippines to continue as a young population – Deloitte

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The Philippine would continue to be a young population with over 65s at 8 percent of the total population.

According to the third edition of Deloitte’s Voice of Asia series, released by Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd member firm Navarro Amper & Co., with the Philippines’ birth rate still above the global average, this means the Philippine economy is farther from reaching the peak of the demographic wave than any other country in Asia Pacific.

“This should be good news for us since we will be in a position to benefit from a potential labor force gap in the region. And with the ASEAN integration underway this should make it easier for Filipinos to move across borders for employment that best suits their skills and has real demand,” says Eric Landicho, Deloitte Philippines’ Managing Partner & CEO.

But recent Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) numbers show that the largest group of workers in the country is made up of unskilled laborers at 25.4 percent or 9.99 million of the total employed population.

According to Deloitte’s analysis, Asia’s changing demographic makeup will increase demand in sectors such as nursing, asset management, and insurance.

“In order to make the most of our ‘people power’, we will need to upskill Filipino workers now and also prepare the younger generation for what the labor market will look like when they reach employment age,” says Landicho.

“Even Filipinos who are on track to enter the healthcare sector have to consider the way that industry is rapidly changing because of technology. Are they ready to use digital and technology-enabled healthcare solutions? Are they staying abreast of innovations in improving patient experience?”

“The business implications of these changing demographics are vast,” says Landicho. “For the Philippines in particular, the coming decades will be our time to shine, but we have to lay the foundations now to make sure that when we do hit our peak in potential workforce, that workforce will be equipped with the skills and the training that are relevant to what the market needs.”

Deloitte sees India as well positioned to rise as an economic superpower, driving the third great wave of Asia’s growth after Japan and China. Its potential workforce is set to rise from 885 million people today to 1.08 billion in the next 20 years, and the expectation is for these new workers to be much better trained and educated than the current crop.

Indonesia, which like the Philippines has a young population, is also expected to benefit from an ageing Asia as the number of its potential workers – both men and women – is projected to reach 200 million by 2029.

Asia’s over 65s are the largest and fastest growing market in the world, providing a target-rich environment of business opportunities.

Those in Asia aged over 65 will grow from 365 million in 2017 to more than 520 million in 2027. While this creates emerging challenges for ageing nations, ageing populations will also generate a growth cluster of new business opportunities.

Asia is ageing fast, with a billion people in the region to be aged 65 and over by the middle of this century.

Deloitte says the money being spent by and on ageing populations will grow even faster than Asia ages, because the impact of new technologies and the ongoing management of increasing chronic conditions means healthcare costs will rise faster than most other costs.

 

P20-billion safe Philippines project to improve local governments’ capabilities

The Philippine government will construct 18 integrated operations and command centers that would feature video surveillance systems and a remote backup data center.

The P20.3 billion Safe Philippines Project aims to improve the capabilities of local government units towards the collaborative and more efficient management of public order, security, and safety.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia stressed the importance of the project in ensuring security, public order, and safety as this constitutes the bedrock of the Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte government.

“We value the need of people to feel safe wherever they are in the country and to be able to go about their business and other pursuits. This is essential in building the foundation for inclusive growth, a high trust society, and a globally competitive knowledge economy,” Pernia said.

The P11.4 billion Bridge Construction and Acceleration Project for Socioeconomic Development, on the other hand, involves the construction of five iconic bridges and 25 truss bridges with a total length of 2,848 lineal meters in nine regions of the country.  Construction of these bridges is expected to be completed by 2022.

Meanwhile, the additional financing for the new Bohol Panglao International Airport project aims to address further civil works requirements of the project amounting to P1.23 billion.