Exporters group says digital technology key to recovery

MANILA – The Philippine export industry is recovering from the pandemic’s impact and is expected to further grow as economies open worldwide while stakeholders embark on a digitalization and business continuity program.
The lowering of the alert levels toward the full re-opening of the economy, coupled with fast-tracking of the vaccination program, are critical interventions to help achieve our recovery and growth targets, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) chair George Barcelon said during the Pilipinas Conference, held virtually on November 22 to 26.
Barcelon said exports have risen from a 50-percent plunge in April 2020 to an 18-percent year-on-year increase up to September this year, marking the seventh consecutive month of improved performance.
He said electronics is expected to continue to be the biggest dollar-earner, with industrial, medical, automotive, and telecom electronics products as growth drivers.
With the sector’s continued recovery, Barcelon said the export industry group is implementing the Future-Ready (P30) program using two strategies: technology and closer collaboration with partners.
The program features five components — the AI-powered Philexport portal, business continuity plan, The Road to FIRe (Fourth Industrial Revolution) Project, Thematic Clusters, and Export Connect.
The portal features relevant information, business matching, online transactions with Philexport, and promotion and marketing, among others.
Members with no website or who wish to have an expanded virtual presence may use the portal as a microsite or as a template for their own portal, Barcelon added.
Through the second component of the P30 program, Barcelon said they hope to assist interested members to transition to the FIRe.
“At Philexport, we have also started the digitization of files and (are) now moving to the development of systems that will support the portal and our online operations. We also intend to share these templates with our BSOs (business support organizations) and company members,” he said, adding that the business continuity plan covers physical and infrastructure.
He said the Thematic Clusters directly involves chapter leaders and members whose champions will be part of the national clusters on resilience, environment and business sustainability; productivity and technology; marketing and promotion; and gender and labor/social compliance.
Barcelon said the last component is another collaboration platform as Philexport works closely with government agencies to ease and inform about regulatory requirements.
He said complementing the P30 program is the group’s work with the Executive and Legislative branches of government and involves outstanding issues such as streamlining of documents and processes through computerization; more development funds for export promotion; research and development and technology acquisition especially for micro, small and medium enterprises; and infrastructure.
Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said his group has also initiated programs and projects even at the start of the pandemic to help mitigate the negative impacts of the crisis, especially on businesses and workers.
Ortiz-Luis particularly cited the National Employment Recovery Strategy Task Force that signed the “Reform. Rebound. Recover: 1 Million Jobs (IMJ) for 2021” project.
“The 1MJ aims to immediately source Filipino talents for deployment in the construction, manufacturing, particularly semiconductors and electronics, tourism and hospitality, and export industries, under a policy environment that would help create jobs all over the country,” he said during the same event.
Ortiz-Luis, also the president of Philexport, said they continuously work with the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in upgrading skills, particularly to meet the demands of the digital transformation that is evolving globally.
“Hit the most by this pandemic, we are handholding the micro, small and medium enterprises to pivot to sectors and platforms that are successfully exhibiting resilience and increasing demand,” he said.
He added that ECOP has partnered with other BSOs, such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in promoting innovation and technology as a productivity, competitiveness, and business continuity response. (PR)

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