The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) encouraged local stakeholders to ensure that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) gain from the benefits of ASEAN integration. “We all need to work together to understand the pros and cons of global policy reforms and to ensure that poor communities in the tourism supply chain can participate either as destinations or suppliers to tourism markets,” said DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo at a briefing with stakeholders on the ASEAN Economic Community last week in Tagbilaran City.

An average of 435,000 local and foreign tourists arrive in Bohol every year with at least 3,000 MSMEs in the province which depend on tourism activities for their livelihood.

asec perryCeferino S. Rodolfo, Assistant Secretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy and Yoshiyuki Ueno, Chief of Poverty Reduction Division for Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the FabLab.

DTI Regional Director Asteria Caberte said that interventions to support MSMEs include branding and promotions, design, mentorship, production, and quality enhancement programs, as well as the availability of financial loans and capital equipment or shared services facilities, such as the Bohol Fabrication Laboratory or “Fablab.”

“The Bohol Fablab is a shared service facility for small enterprises to produce quality souvenir products that can be supplied to tourism facilities. These interventions intend to create value chain and links between the trained participants and the producers, exporters and other entrepreneurs in Bohol,” said Caberte.

The DTI in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Bohol Island State University (BISU) and international organizations USAID and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the Bohol Fabrication Laboratory or the “Fablab” as a Shared Service Facility (SSF) to support the creative industries in the province early this year. The Fablab, housed at the BISU, provides state of the art technology and equipment such as laser cutting, computer numerical control, rapid prototyping, haptic interface modeling, and virtual reality modeling to name a few.

“The Bohol FabLab SSF will enable local designers in partnership with local MSMEs to come up with high value and high quality product prototypes. The facilities can also further assist MSMEs through short run production of prototypes which can be used for market testing before full blown commercial production,” added Caberte.

Meanwhile, the DTI is implementing the Leveraging Industries for Supply Chain (LINCs) Program, a joint undertaking with the Department of Tourism, to promote the tourism value chains and strengthen the supply chains catering to the tourism sector. Through the LINCs Program, a design and mentorship program was conducted in the province. Several dairy cooperatives in Ubay and nearby municipalities were assisted through workshops that will improve the design, packaging and formulation of their carabao milk soaps. A series of workshops were also conducted for local designers and entrepreneurs on souvenir designs and product development strategies.

ASEAN envisions a highly competitive, equitable and resilient economic region, and a single market and production base fully integrated into the global economy. ASEAN will officially declare the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community by end December 2015.

ASEAN with its population of 608 million is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. It has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of about US$ 2,327 billion (2012). It is estimated that ASEAN’s total trade to the world is about US$ 2,501 billion.

ASEAN was the Philippines’ largest trading partner in 2013, accounting for 19.1% of our trade with the world. In comparison, Philippine trade with the European Union, a traditional export market, comprised only 10.7% of our total trade in the same year. (END)