DTI optimistic toward 7% growth this year (Manila Times)

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expressed optimism for the Philippine economy in 2013, as sustained key initiatives and ongoing reforms in the areas of trade and industry will enhance the country’s business climate and attract more investments.

Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo during the recent Arangkada Forum said that the department projects a 7-percent gross domestic products (GDP) growth for this year. He said that the projected growth is sustainable because of the diverse achievements of different sectors of the economy. Domingo also noted the manufacturing sector’s performance, which surpassed the services sector in the third and fourth quarters of last year.

“That’s a very good indication that manufacturing is back and when you go to Laguna, Batangas and Cebu, you’ll see manufacturing plants, huge ones that are being built and some operating already,” Domingo said. “We are in the good spot,” he added, referring to the recent statements of the three major ratings agencies—Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s—that the Philippines is one notch below investment grade.

Domingo likewise noted the latest Jetro survey where the Philippines is considered one of the most profitable business locations in Asia. The same survey showed that recruiting general staff is easiest in the Philippines, “with a stable labor environment and with labor costs increasing steadily and quite predictably,” he said.

Domingo also sees a more vigorous year for investments than the record-setting 2012 where approved investments of the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority reached P672.3 billion. “Based on the foreign inbound missions and the plans that we have been informed about by various companies and embassies, 2013 will be a much better year for investments.

So expect more good things to come this year,” he said. On the trade front, 2012 merchandise exports rebounded, reaching a record $52 billion. Domingo noted that in the last five years, 60 percent of total Philippine exports went to our Southeast and East Asian neighbors compared to 10 years ago, when 50 percent of the country’s exports went to the United States and Europe.

Domingo credits this to the diversified and balanced geographic markets, and the big improvement in non-electronics exports as well as the pursuit of active trade relations and free trade agreements (FTAs). “We are further intensifying participation in trade negotiations and constantly on the lookout for opportunities brought about by FTAs,” Domingo said.

To increase the level of global competitiveness of local industries, the DTI, together with various business and industry groups, and the National Competitiveness Council have crafted 19 industry roadmaps, with nine more underway. The DTI is also pushing for the revision of laws and policies such as the Foreign Investment Negative List, the rationalization of incentives, and the Mining Act, among others. The DTI is looking to file the draft bills at the start of the new Congress and is hoping for some to become laws by the end of this year.

original source: www.manilatimes.net