The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) works to incorporate the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) agenda in its trade and investment promotion efforts through its various commercial posts overseas.

“We should not lose the opportunity of joining the bandwagon in pushing for MSMEs development,” DTI Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said during the recent Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) Planning Conference.

Maglaya talked about DTI’s support in the internationalization of MSMEs, particularly on how to bring MSMEs to be active participant, not just as direct exporters but eventually to be part of the global value chain.

“In the Boracay Action Agenda, we are talking about how do we really put them (MSMEs) front and center (of regional and global trade). So, we look into significant contributors of economic growth, trade, employment, poverty alleviation, and innovation,” Maglaya said.

She added it is important to look at inclusive growth, globalize MSMEs, and address barriers to trade and investment, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers to promote the internationalization of MSMEs and integrating them into global value chains (GVCs).

“In the SME Ministers Meeting, we had the Iloilo Initiative which is supposed to be guided by the Boracay action agenda. We now have to come up with very specific action initiatives or projects that will see through the Boracay Action Agenda,” Maglaya said.

“With the Iloilo initiative, we talked about building linkages, promote knowledge sharing, adopt a holistic view of GVCs toward strengthening trade and investment linkages among MSMEs and big business,” Magalaya said.

Maglaya noted that in the Iloilo initiative, four areas were tackled in providing bigger voice and better opportunities to MSMEs; (1) organization of the APEC SME Summit by APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC); (2) dialogue on the margins of the SME Ministerial Meeting and holding of annual SME Ministers-CEO; (3) establishing and strengthening of the operation of the MSME association in each economy and across the Asia-Pacific Region; and (4) building a network of MSMEs, incubators, accelerators, and innovation centers in APEC to promote information exchanges, business networking, and capacity building.

Maglaya added that DTI is advancing policy frameworks to promote MSME participation in GVCs and international trade through the APEC MSME Marketplace through facilitating business networking and matching involving MSMEs, enhancing MSME awareness and feedback on trade regulations, and improving mechanism for knowledge sharing on trade facilitation, business support, partnerships, and capacity building activities for MSMEs.

During the 10-day planning conference, policy updates on free trade areas (FTAs) and generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) and implications on FTSC trade and investment promotion focus were also discussed. Discussions on new growth sectors such as information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry, such as health information management systems (HIMS), animation, big data, and analytics; tech startups; aerospace; automotive and auto parts manufacturing; integrated circuit (IC) design and electronics manufacturing services (EMS); food; infrastructure; and MSMEs were also lined up.

DTI Assistant Secretary and Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) Coordinating Officer Maria Roseni M. Alvero said that learnings from the planning conference will be included in respective plans of DTI’s commercial posts abroad. The plans will determine DTI’s strategies in the country’s foreign markets.

The FTSC also scheduled plant visits in Canon Business Machines Philippines, Inc., B/E Aerospace, and Sonion Philippines, Inc. (END)