Department of Trade and Industry’s International Trade Forum “Empowering Philippine Industries”

June 15, 2023

Message of Support of

Department of Trade and Industry
International Trade Forum
“Empowering Philippine Industries”
Shangri-La The Fort, Taguig City
15 June 2023

The die is cast, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has been ratified and the DTI has submitted the plans required to meet the conditions contained in Senate Resolution No. 42.

I have always had faith in the skills, creativity, and innovativeness of the Filipino. That has never been the issue plaguing our country and our reduced capacity to compete. Both the ratification conditions and the way forward now require much more than lip service. It is imperative that we can prove that these benefits touted by the largest economic agreement in recent history can be delivered across a broad range of sectors.

I therefore give my support to the Philippine Export Development Plan in its comprehensiveness and inclusivity as well as its sharp focus on areas that make us competitive.

I have to mention the uniqueness of the RCEP, which will be the vehicle for the success of this plan. RCEP is unique because it mentions the Convention on Biological Diversity. The latest agreement under this Convention is the Kunming Montreal Biodiversity Framework, which has targets that can impact our export ambitions. Growth and expansion of production necessarily bring with it the use of natural resources. Meanwhile, one target of the Framework is to ensure that by 2030, at least 30 per cent of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration, in order to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, ecological integrity and connectivity.

I urge our export sector and our industries wishing to be a part of this wave of economic opportunity to consider such restoration as a necessary improvement of the capacity of these ecosystems to deliver the products we will enhance and the quality that makes for higher value, more nutritious loads and less toxicity. Another target should encourage our production to be more efficient and economical, by reducing excess nutrients lost to the environment by at least half through more efficient nutrient cycling and use; reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half through integrated pest management, based on science, taking into account food security and livelihood.

These tenets should make our offerings to the global market more valued. More and more, consumers are gaining an increased awareness and appreciation of products that are sustainably produced. Instead of treating this as an insurmountable obstacle, we can leapfrog towards new production mechanisms that avoid waste and ensure ecological security. This will deliver much more economic benefits in the long term.

Let me end by saying that we are in the process of finalizing the provisions of the Philippine Environmental and Natural Capital Accounting System Bill. This will help us with decision making as to which products will give us a competitive advantage while ensuring clean and sustainable production processes. We cannot seek unlimited growth in a finite planet; hence the challenge is to add value to the things we produce, both by ingenuity, better craftsmanship, quality as well as social benefits including fair working conditions and pricing that accounts for externalities.

It is an exciting, yet challenging time to be entering this arena. We have to show the world who we are by integrating all these challenges in our engagement with the global economy. And I believe in our people and the capacity of our government to deliver.