Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its attached agency, Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) in coordination with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Paris (PTIC-Paris), recently participated at the Maison et Objet, the premier and largest French trade fair for interior design held on 8-12 September 2017 in Paris, France.


“The presence of DESIGN PHILIPPINES at this year’s Maison et Objet is a testament of DTI’s commitment to continuously support and provide global platforms for Filipino exporters and designers,” said DTI Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Nora K. Terrado.


As the country’s third participation in one of the world’s biggest lifestyle event which attracts over 75,000 visitors worldwide including interior designers, decorators, architects, hotel directors, art directors, stylists and trendsetters, showcased DesignPhilippines which highlighted and represented the country’s creative sensibilities.


Among the world-class Filipino companies showcased at the DesignPhilippines are: Agsam Fashion Fern, Beatriz, Catalina Embroideries, Finali, Kit Silver Jewellery, Megabijoux, Nature’s Legacy, and Weave Manila.

“We strive to open doors for our emerging designers and exporters to access global partners who frequent the world’s most important international trade shows such as the Maison et Objet which is held twice a year in Paris. This is key in enabling them to meet new trade buyers and be exposed to overseas markets,” Terrado added.


Led by DTI’s CITEM, DesignPHILIPPINES is a branding initiative that positions the Philippines as a sourcing destination for finely crafted products for the world market.


“We see the vital role that the government plays when it comes to accessing markets for our local exporters. As we participate in various international trade exhibits, we also seek the support of the private sector and businesses to collaborate with us in  joining international trade fairs where they could potentially meet new buyers as well as promote Philippine design to the rest of the world,” emphasized Terrado.


In photo: Philippine Ambassador to France, HE Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro (eighth from left) join Philippine exporters from the home, lifestyle and fashion industries – Agsam Fashion Fern, Beatriz, Catalina Embroideries, Finali, Kit Silver Jewellery, Megabijoux, Nature’s Legacy, Weave Manila — who were part of the country pavilion at the Maison et Objet held in Paris, France on 8-12 September 2017. Joining them are Froilan Pamintuan, Commercial Attache of the Philippine Trade and Investment (second from right); Rapunzel Acop of the Philippine Embassy in Paris (seventh from left); Art Dimaano of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions or CITEM (ninth from left); Chiqui Veneracion of Maison et Objet (sixth from left) and Eduardo Francisco of PTIC-Paris (leftmos

PH endorses continuing ASEAN-Russia growth story


Highlights areas of bilateral cooperation with Russians


VLADIVOSTOK—Following the June visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Russia, the Philippines (PH) successfully concluded a trade and investment scoping mission in Russia, as well as actively participated in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) on 6-7 September.


“During this mission, we promoted PH trade and investment opportunities to Russian importers and buyers of food products, government representatives of the Primorsky Territory, officials and members of the Primorsky Chamber of Commerce & Industry, officials of the commercial port of Vladivostok, and the Far Eastern Development Corporation,” said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rowel Barba, who led the PH delegation to Vladivostok.


Government and private sector delegates from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Philippines-Russia Business Council (PRBC), the Philippine-Russian Business Assembly, Inc. (PRBA), and the Mindanao Banana Farmers & Exporters Association (MBFEA) also participated in the mission.


Meanwhile, USec. Barba also served as panel speaker during the EEF’s Russia-ASEAN Dialogue, where he underscored the latest developments and business opportunities in PH and ASEAN. He highlighted the MOUs signed during President Duterte’s visit to Russia. PRBA’s Armi Lopez Garcia and PRBC’s Roberto De Venecia were also resource speakers during the session and together with USec. Barba, they promoted the country and the vast economic opportunities and complementation between both countries.


Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta, meanwhile, was a panelist on the topic “Russia-ASEAN 2017:  New Horizons for Mutual Cooperation.”


Parallel to the PH participation to the EEF was the PH hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings on 4-11 September, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) taking the lead.


“The key to unlocking the doorway of opportunity is by demystifying the landscape of ASEAN-Russian trade relationship. This means generating more trade opportunities between both sides, as well as creating trust and confidence in each other in the course of doing business,” said USec. Barba.


PH also encouraged private sector members to do business in PH given that among the ASEAN countries, PH is consistently among the fastest growing economies.


Also at the EEF, PRBA signed a cooperation agreement with Roscongress Foundation to enhance PH-Russia cooperation, arranging effective communications between the expert communities, business and political groups of both sides. Said agreement includes exchange of delegations and mutual expert support in organising high profile events, as well as expansion of contacts between the two countries’ business communities that will contribute to the development of trade and economic relations.


“This partnership between the two organisations will be an important platform to increase trade and investment between PH and Russia,” said USec. Barba. PH has a bilateral trade value of US$ 226.25M in 2016 with Russia, making Russia its 33rd top trading partner.


According to him, the mission complements the administration’s thrust to increase bilateral trade levels with non-traditional trading partners, including Russia.


“We are prepared to supply Russia with high-quality export products, including food and agricultural products, garments, personal care products, gifts and home-style products, electronic products and semiconductors, and automotive parts and components, among many others,” he said.


Aside from agricultural products, such as fishery products and fresh fruits, PH also offers investment potential in the sectors of infrastructure and public-private partnership (PPP) projects, as PH pushes its ‘Build Build Build’ Program.


“By being a partner in developing Philippine industries, especially in the area of mineral processing and supply of iron and steel, Russian investors can also take advantage of supplying the primordial inputs to our infrastructure development program. They can also be a source of strategic imports that support our local priority sectors,” USec. Barba added.


Russian business can likewise consider opportunities in oil and gas, electronics, aerospace, energy, IT-BPM, agriculture, tourism and retail trade in PH.

DTI rolls out Kapatid Mentor Me Program in Ilocos Norte.

True to its thrust to propel micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) towards innovative and competitive business environment, the Department of Trade and Industry Region 1, in partnership with Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE), on September 15, launched the Kapatid Mentor Me Program (KMME) – Ilocos Norte Leg in Ilocos Norte.


the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship – Go Negosyo. The KMME Program is part of the DTI – PCE partnership Negosyo – Kapatid Project to help MSMEs scale up their businesses and become globally competitive enterprises through coaching and mentoring sessions.


The KMME Program is part of the Negosyo- Kapatid Project that will guide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) scale up their businesses through 10 weeks of 1-on-1 consultations and coaching sessions with business experts and help MSMEs scale up and become globally competitive enterprises through coaching and mentoring sessions.


In his message, DTI-Ilocos Regional Director Florante Leal emphasized the role played by MSMEs in fueling the economic growth of the country while also highlighting the importance of mentoring towards the attainment of economic progress driven by empowered MSMEs.


Leal said the KMME program is a “big brother-small brother” concept, which is a perfect tool to motivate the entrepreneurial spirit of the Ilocanos and Pangasinenses.”


PCE accredited mentors shared their expertise on Entrepreneurial Mind Setting, Business Values Formation and Marketing to some 250 MSMEs from the Region.


The KMME program is in line with the Duterte Administration’s agenda of advancing MSMEs in the country.


The program will allow mentees to learn strategies on marketing, financial, human resource and operation management among others during the 10-week module-based sessions. On the 11th week, mentees are also required to present their business development plans before their graduation from the program.


Upon completion of the program, the MSEs are expected to become confident entrepreneurs with the right mindset and business-knowhow that will be able to sustain and scale up their enterprises.

For Ilocos Norte, 22 mentees were chosen for the program. Qualified mentees are business owners or managers of an enterprise with an asset of three million and below and operational for at least a year.


Ilocos Norte is the fourth and last province in the region to roll-out the Kapatid Mentor Me Program. La Union, Pangasinan have previously launched the KMME program and has already produced entrepreneur 50 graduates while 23 entrepreneurs in Ilocos Sur are expected to finish the program.

DTI rolls out Kapatid Mentor Me Program in Ilocos Norte. True to its thrust to propel micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) towards innovative and competitive business environment, the Department of Trade and Industry Region 1 in partnership with Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) last September 15, launched the Kapatid Mentor Me Program (KMME) in Ilocos Norte, to guide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) scale up their businesses through 10 weeks of 1-on-1 consultations with business experts from the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship – Go Negosyo. The KMME Program is part of the DTI – PCE partnership Negosyo- Kapatid Project to help MSMEs scale up their businesses and become globally competitive enterprises through coaching and mentoring sessions. DTI Ilocos Region Regional Director Florante Leal said the KMME program is a “big brother-small brother” concept, which is a perfect tool to motivate the entrepreneurial spirit of the Ilocanos and Pangasinenses.”

DTI to provide advisory and mentoring services program for Cavite MSMEs

The Department of Trade and Industry, in partnership with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), recently launched the Building Enterprises through Advisory and Mentoring Services (BEAMS) Project in General Trias, Cavite to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by enlisting assistance from volunteer mentors.


The BEAMS project is an offshoot of CESO’s conduct of training and workshop in CALABARZON region and is anchored on the Bayanihan spirit by establishing a pool of home-grown mentors and coaches in each province of the region.


DTI CALABARZON Regional Director Marilou Q. Toledo said the BEAMS program will help MSMEs in the aspects of production management, productivity improvement, financial planning and management, product development through mentoring from DTI and CESO experts.


“BEAMS mentors will provide business diagnostics and assessment of business operations of our Shared Service Facilities (SSF) cooperators and MSMEs and counsel them on production management, productivity improvement, financial planning and management, product development, among others, which will suit the needs of each SSF and MSME,” Toledo said.


Cavite is the second province in CALABARZON to kick off BEAMS this year after Quezon.


The Shared Service Facilities (SSF) Program is an equipment sharing program aiming to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through sophisticated machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system.


The SSF Program provides MSMEs access to better technology and more sophisticated equipment that could boost productivity and improve efficiency, as well as address the gaps and bottle necks in the global value chain being faced by MSMEs, which comprise 99.6% of locally registered businesses, generating over one million jobs a year.


The equipment-sharing program also increases capabilities of both manufacturing and agriculture-based MSMEs to enable them to develop capacity and a culture of quality.


Universities and colleges including the National College of Science and Technology-Dasmarinas, De La Salle University- Dasmarinas, and Imus Institute of Science and Technology and partner agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology, Provincial Cooperative, Livelihood, and Entrepreneurial Development Office-Cavite, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Cavite, and Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants vowed to throw its full support and commitment to the program to help MSMEs.

CESO is Canada’s economic development organization that draws on senior executives and technical experts to build the capacity in governance and economic development through the transfer of knowledge and skills by Volunteer Advisors around the world and in Canada. It is funded by the Canadian Government- Global Affairs Canada.

PH strengthens bilateral ties with Malaysia


Malaysian investors bullish in investing in PH


PASAY CITY—At the sidelines of the Philippine (PH) hosting of the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings on 8 September, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez convened a bilateral meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, Minister for International Trade and Industry Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed.


The Philippines (PH) and Malaysia (MY) discussed various measures to enhance trade and investment relations including regional economic integration.


MY requested PH participation/support in its ASEAN internship program as a way to improve people-to-people interaction among college students. Under this program, interns will have the opportunity to gain experience in an ASEAN company.


PH, meanwhile, sought MY’s support in the development of the Halal industry through various capacity building initiatives, including trainings and internship. PH also followed up on the proposed cooperation in palm oil, given that this can be instrumental in developing key areas in Mindanao. MY indicated that it is working very closely with Indonesia in addressing the various issues facing the industry, including the environmental lobby in the EU and taxes.


PH requested MY to participate in the business matching activities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as part of the activities for PH chairmanship.


MY underscored the need for a united ASEAN in moving forward with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


In parallel development, MY investors remain bullish on pouring in more significant investments in the PH given the country’s robust economy buoyed by heavy spending in infrastructure projects, expanding market with a large young population and growing middle class, and the administration’s firm resolve to further ease the cost of doing business in the country and manage the peace and order situation in Mindanao.


A proof of such confidence was the recent (6 September) launching of the Malaysia Chamber of Commerce Inc. (MCCI) in Manila. Led by Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, MCCI serves as MY’s business network group in PH, advancing the concerns and interests of the growing MY investors in PH.


Sec. Lopez, who also serves as the Board of Investments (BOI) Chairman, is pleased with the vote of confidence of MY businessmen in PH.


“During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Malaysia in November 2016, Malaysian business leaders expressed confidence in the many investment opportunities in the Philippines,” said Sec. Lopez, adding that these businessmen expressed interest in investing in infrastructure, mass transportation development, building of regional centers, joint ventures in agribusiness, halal-certified products, and high value post-harvest processing facilities.


“Malaysia has always seen the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, as an investment destination of choice because we are neighbors, and we share almost the same culture,” he added.


Meanwhile, MCCI President Edward Ling said that MY companies are keen on investing in PH particularly in the sectors of information technology, construction, energy, manufacturing, and retail.


“We are very encouraged by the seriousness of the administration in addressing the concerns of both the current and potential investors in doing business in the country.  We will relay this to our Malaysian investors for them to pursue more investment missions in the Philippines,” he said.


MY has huge investments globally. In PH, MY investments have been on a steady growth in the recent years. Approved MY investments by all the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) reached Php219.038 billion in 2016.


In the first eight months of 2017, MY investments registered with all IPAs reached Php26.242 billion. Of these figures, total BOI-registered MY investments amounted to Php4.33 billion from 2012 up to January to August 2017.


Top MY investments in PH are in the industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing; manufacturing; power; water supply, sewerage, and waste management; construction; wholesale and retail trade; transportation and storage; information and communication; financial and insurance activities; real estate activities, and administrative and support activities.

Trade chief on artificial intelligence: let’s make it work for BPO

MAKATI—There is a way to make artificial intelligence (AI) work for the sector of the business process outsourcing (BPO), amidst threats that this technology posts on our major services industry, the country’s trade chief said.

A product of the fast pace changes in technology, AI has presented itself more than just a new technology but as a threat to the current employees servicing the service export industry and the BPO, including the contact centers.

“Let us retool and reposition the nature of the current jobs in the industry,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, in the course of pessimistic prediction that AI could potentially diminish 45 to 50% of the approximately 1.2 million Filipino employees of the BPO industry.

Sec. Lopez cited these possible solutions coming from his recent collaboration with Dr. Dado Banatao, a renowned Filipino technology entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, in order to minimize the impact of AI on job displacements. Together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) and the Unite States Agency for International Development (USAID), the group is currently working on building an inclusive, innovation ecosystem (government-academe-industry network) that will infuse science and technology, and innovation in industries including agriculture and services.

The AI technology enables computers to provide answers or solutions to problems raised in contact center transactions. Through programming, and deep learning technology, several databases are processed at faster speed and the computer processors are able to respond and recommend actions to callers.

“We need to train affected BPO employees and strategically orient them on the emerging technology requirements of the industry that will enable them to continuously improve job performance. In other words, making use of technology in their jobs rather than being displaced by it,” said Sec. Lopez.

“In simpler terms, we will endeavor to make this new technology work for them,” he added.

The trade chief said that intensive education and training programs for those in the industry should be developed soon by the academe, government and industry innovation ecosystem to ensure least manpower displacement.

He also underscored the need to develop an inclusive, innovation-led industrial ecosystem that will upgrade the competitiveness of the Philippine core sectors, including the services sector, in a bid to improve productivity, output generation. This is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda to build competitive industries that will generate more jobs and income, reduce inequality and give a more comfortable life for every Filipino, according to Sec. Lopez.

DTI and DOST will lead the convening of all enablers in the innovation ecosystem to map out the overall framework and programs to be implemented.

“There is a need to strengthen curriculum towards computer science, engineering, data science and AI application design, among others. This effort is also deemed to be inclusive as disqualified BPO applicants and retrenched agents will be retrained for AI application development that will eventually enable them to get jobs,” Sec. Lopez concluded.