Clark, Pampanga - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) called on the private sector in Central Luzon to engage micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. At the Industry Roadmaps and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Game Plan Forum held here today (30 September 2015), DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba said that “by focusing on revitalizing the manufacturing industry, we can create more and better jobs for our people.”

“Central Luzon has a role in achieving inclusive growth. With its strong regional economy, the private and public sectors in the region can work together to build capacities of our industries and to provide more opportunities for MSMEs to participate in the global market,” said Aldaba.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the economy or Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Central Luzon grew by 4.6 percent in 2014, with the manufacturing sector posting double digit growth from negative 1.3 percent in 2013 to 19.1 percent in 2014.

However, Aldaba noted that during the same period, Central Luzon’s unemployment rate in the region is higher at 8.8 percent than the 6.5 percent national rate.

“Both private and public sectors have to address this gap between industry and job creation. For example, we can explore linking the locators inside the Subic and Clark economic zones with MSMEs located in Central Luzon,” Aldaba added.

“We are already experiencing a resurgence of the manufacturing industry and now, we have greater access to markets abroad. There are greater opportunities for industries already located here to expand and for those who are not yet here to consider investing,” she said.

ASEAN member countries enjoy zero tariffs for 99% of products traded in the region. The Philippines also enjoys zero tariffs for more than 6,000 products exported to the European Union (EU) because of the EU-Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+).

The forum is part of a series of roadmap localization conferences organized by the DTI. The forum aims to engage stakeholders in the region to craft their local roadmaps and align these with national strategies.

Central Luzon is engaged in the manufacture of automotive and aerospace parts, electronics, furniture, shipbuilding, and processed food products, among others. (END)