Trade chief to investors: “Partner with PH, build value together”

NEW DELHI – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez encouraged Indian businessmen and delegates from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ride on the ongoing Philippine (PH) growth story.

During the PH-India Business Forum on 24 January 2018, the country’s trade chief presented Dutertenomics — the socioeconomic policies of President Rodrigo Duterte—to encourage investors to partner with PH, which will help in creating additional value for their businesses and boost income-generation operations.

“The initiatives under Dutertenomics can help support investors by creating an environment where companies can do business swiftly and efficiently,” said Sec. Lopez, stressing that ongoing infrastructure projects strategically link the country’s industries. These, in turn, will further power the growth of an already strong economic base.

“Our ‘Build Build Build’ infrastructure program will facilitate greater trade and investment as it opens up access to new markets, while minimizing trade and logistics cost,” he added.

Under Dutertenomics, the government’s massive ‘Build Build Build’ program aims to develop massive and efficient infrastructure projects to create more opportunities in the countryside by developing more regional growth centers.

The trade chief also highlighted DTI’s Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan, at Konsyumer initiative as well as the inclusive, innovation-led, industrial strategy (i3s) as support for the socioeconomic agenda of President Duterte. The i3s complements the government’s thrust to promote an innovation ecosystem in PH, with different sectors partnering to generate more jobs and improved business opportunities. This sets up the environment for MSMEs to grow, with full assistance in training, product and market development, equipment and financing from government.

With the significant growth of 6.9% in the country’s GDP and 39% growth in the Board of Investments (BOI) approved investments, Sec. Lopez urged investors to take part in the country’s economic growth.

According to the trade chief, investors can fully recoup their investments as their businesses enjoy the benefits of operating in a fully-industrialized and secure business environment. They can also enjoy PH’s stable macroeconomic fundamentals, the educated English-speaking workforce, the demographic sweet spot that presents an enlarging consumer base, and wider market access thru preferential trade agreements.

Sec. Lopez shared that the Philippines’ greatest asset is its people, highlighting the large pool of highly qualified and educated work force that is strongly customer-oriented, highly trainable with fast learning curve, adaptable to universal cultures and with high level of commitment and loyalty.

“The hallmark of Dutertenomics is to attain growth with equity. That is, addressing inequality while reducing poverty across the regions towards improved quality of life for all,” he added.

Sec. Lopez also shared the potential of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as key to opening a huge integrated market base of 3.5 billion with ASEAN, plus its six Dialogue Partners (India, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand).

DTI cites winners of Startup World Cup Philippines Regional Finals



In the recently concluded Slingshot ASEAN led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), winners for the Startup World Cup – Philippines Regional were announced to represent the Philippines and compete with the rest of the world in the upcoming Startup World Cup Grand Finale in Silicon Valley on May 2018.


Storm Technologies topped the ten finalists as it bagged the grand prize, which includes an all-expense paid trip to San Francisco and a chance to win $1,000,000 by competing in the Startup World Cup Global Finale. Storm Technologies is the largest flexible benefits and incentives firm in the Philippines. It serves over 100,000 employees across different industries.


Meanwhile, runners-up include Beam and Go as 4th runner-up; Zennya, 3rd runner-up; Qwikwire, 2nd runner-up; and Ayannah, 1st runner-up. All runners-up will be attending Startup World Cup Finale in Silicon Valley.


Startup World Cup Philippines Regional grand finals is a collaboration between DTI, Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development(DOST-PCIEERD), DENTSU X Philippines, Fenox Venture Capital Southeast Asia and Brainsparks. Startup World Cup on the other hand, is a global conference and competition that brings together the top startups, venture capitalists (VCs), entrepreneurs and world-class technology executives.


Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry, Slingshot ASEAN is one of the official events lined up by the ASEAN Committee on Business and Investment Promotion (ASEAN-CBIP) being chaired by DTI Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado.

In photo: Startup World Cup Philippines Regional grand prize winner, Storm Technologies with DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado (2nd from right).

Leaders Converge at the ASEAN+6 Construction Forum 2017


The Department of Trade and Industry, through the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines – Philippine Overseas Construction Board (CIAP-POCB) converges with the ASEAN Committee on Business and Investment Promotion (CBIP) of the ASEAN National Organizing Council to gather local and foreign construction industry key players at the first ever ASEAN+6 Construction Forum in the Philippines.


Local guests from the public and private sectors; ASEAN Member delegates; Dialogue partners from China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand; and Philippine delegates and VIPs are present to grace the event being at the Solaire Hotel in Parañaque City.


Today’s activity targets to increase global participation and harmonious international relations of PH construction industry players with the rest of the world. The forum also serves as a platform to engage participation and solicit the cooperation of the key players in the ASEAN Construction industry to ramp up infrastructure development especially now that the country is at the onset of the “Golden Age of Infrastructure”.


With the POCB initiative, Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo believes that the ASEAN+6 Forum is a fitting development platform as ASEAN becomes a major player in the international community.


The ASEAN+6 Construction Forum convenes four panel discussions namely: Blueprint: ASEAN Connectivity, Bolting Together: Strengthening ASEAN Connectivity towards ONE ASEAN, The Mobilizers, and Pioneering Innovation; all of which are poised to proactively engage stakeholders by cultivating relationships and identifying mechanisms to regularly and effectively communicate updates on the progress of the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025; coordinate existing resources with the end in view of delivering support across the full life cycle of infrastructure projects to ensure sustainability; and address the need for infrastructure spending to more than double from levels prior to the 1987 global financial crisis.




Moderated by Engr. Michael Roberto Reyes, POCB Board member, the Blueprint: ASEAN Connectivity session provides a macro-overview of the region-wide construction and infrastructure development programs in Asia, such as the ASEAN Masterplan 2025, One Belt, One Road and other big-ticket development projects funded by financing institutions and how key industry players can take part in accomplishing these projects.


Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Richard Bolt, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative Susumu Ito, Bank of China Country Manager Deng Jun and Provincial Affairs Committee Chairman and China-Jiangsu Association for Friendship and International Exchanges (JAFIE) Executive Vice President Jiang Xiao participate in the discussion.


BOLTING TOGETHER: Strengthening ASEAN Connectivity towards ONE ASEAN


The session, moderated by SP Castro Inc. Chairman and President Engr. Salvador P. Castro, Jr., highlights government initiated efforts and policies that would facilitate entry and access to construction opportunities within the ASEAN countries.


Invited panelists are DPWH Undersecretary Dr. Maria Catalina Cabral, Ministry of Construction, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Dangcal Alonto, Business & International Division H.E. Muhammad Rizuan Hamzah and Ministry of Land Management, Urbanization and Construction, Cambodia Secretary of State H.E. Phuoeng Sophean.




Joining the panel are Philippine Constructors Association (PCA) President Engr. Dante M. Abando, Overseas Construction Association of Japan, Inc. (OCAJI) COO Yoshihiro Yamaguchi, Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) Council Member Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz, Sta. Clara International Corporation President Mr. Nicandro Linao and Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) President and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco, to be moderated by Ms. Armie Jarin-Bennett, President of CNN Philippines.

The session discusses the role of the private sector and their action plans in maximizing the construction and infrastructure opportunities in the ASEAN and dialogue partner countries through sharing of strategies to overcome industry hurdles and challenges.




The session, joined by BCDA Executive Vice President Aileen R. Zosa, Street Park Productions, Inc. President and Executive Producer John Aguilar, Arup Management Consulting Associate Director Mr. Bruce Chong and Australia Construction Industry Forum Executive Director Mr. James Cameron, presents the latest trends and technology in construction, and how these innovations impact the construction industry in terms of quality, safety, productivity, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability. This discussion is moderated by Atty. Jean De Castro, CEO of ESCA Incorporated.


The activity ends with a synthesis of the keynote speech at the start of the program and the outputs of the Panel Discussions.


For more information on ASEAN+6 Construction Forum, please email


Event Hashtags: #ASEAN2017 #ASEANConstruction2017

German delegation to participate in DTI SlingShot ASEAN event

Startup Asia Berlin (SUAB), the German-Asian startup platform that aims to enable the professionalization and direct cooperation between startup ecosystems of Berlin, Manila, Bangalore and Jakarta, will conduct its second Asian roadshow from 19 to 28 October 2017.

For the Manila leg and SUAB’s first Asian stop, the 2017 roadshow delegates will be participating at Slingshot ASEAN on 20 October, where they will engage in panel discussions and workshops. Particularly, SUAB, in partnership with QBO and the UNDP, are spearheading the panel on social innovation – a discussion on how startups can create social impact.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its representative office in Germany – the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC-Berlin), has been collaborating with Berlin Senate on various activities related to startup ecosystem development. The visit of DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado to Berlin in March 2017 and the participation of DTI Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) Director Senen Perlada in the Asia Pacific Weeks Berlin in May 2017 facilitated the SUAB participation in Slingshot ASEAN.

Slingshot ASEAN 2017 organized by the DTI, aims to highlight the milestones of the startup community in the Philippines and across ASEAN. With the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” this summit will present a platform for new breed of businesses that are still in their preliminary phase.

The SUAB roadshow delegation is composed of eleven (11) participants from Berlin and five (5) participants from each of the partner ecosystems representing various sectors such as fintech, IoT (internet of things), digital health, 3D movie production, and social innovation, as well as coworking spaces, innovation hubs and incubators. The delegation will travel through Manila, Jakarta and Bangalore with a program of matchmaking, business visits, excursions and participation in various international start-up events and conferences.

The city of Berlin, currently counting 1,800-2,400 startups, ranks 7th in the 2017 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. Said report was conducted by Startup Genome LLC and ranked startup cities in terms of access to funding, extent of market research, talent availability and start up performance and experience.

The StartUp AsiaBerlin program partners include the Unit for International Cooperation of Berlin’s Ministry for Economic Affairs, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Impact Hub Manila, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Bangalore, and HI Indonesia. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

ASEAN on RCEP: recalibrate, arrive at an acceptable ‘landing zone’



Following the Philippine hosting of the 5th Ministerial Meeting on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement on 10 September, as part of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, ASEAN economic ministers expressed strong commitment to take a more pragmatic and realistic approach to conclude the 16-party agreement.


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the lead agency for the AEM Meetings reported that as part of the approach to conclude RCEP, ASEAN economic ministers instructed negotiating leads and teams to recalibrate long-held negotiating stances and positions, to arrive at an acceptable ‘landing zone’, and not hinder negotiation progress.


Top economic officials of the 10 ASEAN Member States and ASEAN FTA Partners— Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand—discussed the way forward for the earnest conclusion of RCEP negotiations. The recent RCEP ministerial meeting enabled clear takeaways as Ministers mapped out the way forward in further progressing market access and text based negotiations on the core negotiating areas embodied in RCEP.


With this guidance received from the ministers, the Incheon Round in October 2017 will be deemed important in defining the future course of the negotiations and steer it to a close. Two chapters have been concluded thus far, including the Chapters on Economic and Technical Cooperation, and Small and Medium Enterprises that underscore RCEP’s development dimension.


“The RCEP has entered a critical phase and, as in any negotiations there are familiar challenges arising from multiple parties with differing stages of development and varying interests,” said DTI Secretary and 2017 AEM Chair Ramon Lopez.


ASEAN has exhibited its strong leadership in managing the RCEP process. The “RCEP Key Elements for Significant Outcomes by End of 2017” welcomed by the Ministers provides the emerging architecture of the RCEP, which will define the FTA’s final shape and form.


The Philippine trade chief added that the country recognizes the difficulties in reconciling differing and even opposing interests and views in an effort to achieve balance between the interests of the developed, developing and least developed economies and addressing these in the most equitable manner.


“More trade and investment as a result of RCEP will engender a more competitive market, generate jobs, and inject capital. These positive outcomes will contribute to the Philippine economic development goals,” added Sec. Lopez.


Given the expectation that RCEP could provide fresh energy to global free trade and open markets, all eyes are on RCEP and how it will set the example for the pursuit of free and open trade.


RCEP represents integrated market of more than three billion people with a combined GDP of US$ 22.4 trillion and one of the world’s largest free trade area accounting for 28.3% of global goods imports and 29.7% of global goods exports, 27.8% of global inward foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks and 24.6% of global outward FDI stocks, and 17.2% of global services imports and 25.4% of global services exports.


Against the backdrop of growing protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments across the globe, ASEAN remains resilient and dynamic in forging ahead with regional economic integration that is a key facet of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), demonstrating both the centrality and leadership of ASEAN.


“RCEP is seen as the next logical step in ASEAN’s regional integration, by bringing it and its partner economies under a single, ambitious, high quality trade agreement, which would further reinforce the Southeast Asia region as the economic center of gravity,” said Sec. Lopez.


“The importance of RCEP to the respective economies of each ASEAN Member State cannot be over-emphasized, not just in terms of the benefits that are expected to accrue to our individual economies but also on our collective posturing as an open and outward-oriented regional trade bloc,” concluded Sec. Lopez.

PH-led initiative APEC MSME Marketplace launched in Viet Nam


The Philippines launched the APEC MSME Marketplace, an online platform to promote trade and internationalization of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), during the 24th APEC SME Ministerial Meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam on 15 September 2017.


“The APEC MSME Marketplace aims to enable MSMEs to participate in meaningful global trade, and in the process harness their ingenuity, boost their competitiveness, and achieve prosperity and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific,” said Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.


The online platform which is a cross-border business-to-business (B2B) platform is part of the Philippine commitment to implement the Iloilo Initiative: Growing Global MSMEs for Inclusive Development, which was earlier adopted by the APEC SME Ministers in 2015. It seeks to provide bigger voice and better opportunities for APEC MSMEs.


Accessible via, the APEC MSME Marketplace which will showcase products and sellers, and trade facilitation services, is the result of the collective efforts of the 21 APEC member economies to contribute to the shared vision of mainstreaming the MSMEs into the global economy.

Lopez added that growth can only be meaningful if it is inclusive and sustainable and this is a priority objective under the Duterte administration.


“This is also the enduring vision of the APEC MSME Marketplace, its reason for existence,” he said.


The portal aims to: (1) facilitate business networking and matching involving MSMEs and large enterprises; (2) enhance MSMEs awareness on trade regulations and encourage participation in policy development; and (3) improve knowledge sharing and capacity building for MSMEs.


To engage the MSME sector to help build sustainable and inclusive growth in the region, the APEC MSME Marketplace is being implemented in three phases.


On its first phase (2016-2017), the Marketplace created linkages to key information by member economies and other available resources, particularly on trade regulations and business support services. In its current phase (2017-2018), more site functionalities are being developed. This includes, among others, the provision for MSMEs to join the directory of exporters.


For the third phase (2018-2019), APEC is working on increasing the trade facilitation capability of the Marketplace through more business matching activities.

Users and stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback to help improve the site as the region’s trading environment continues to evolve.


Through the Marketplace, MSMEs are well placed to leverage on the endless and exciting opportunities to go global and penetrate more markets.


“The challenge now is to continue to take the innovation and trade agenda forward by leveraging on strategic partnerships that will enable MSMEs to gain the most benefit,” Lopez added.


He called on all APEC member economies to work for closer cooperation and stronger collaboration as they work toward fulfilling their commitment to MSMEs: to help them become competitive and resilient as they embrace the opportunities and challenges globalization brings