The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged Philippine firms to improve the quality of local products to strategically position them in the global market.

“With the decrease in tariffs of most traded products, competition is no longer limited to who can offer the lowest price but who can conform or surpass the standards of international markets as well,” said Agnes Legaspi, Assistant Director of DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (EMB).

Legaspi emphasized during the recent session of the Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) the need for local firms to improve their products and at least be at par with globally competitive products present in the international market, particularly in markets where PH has existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

Program participants from various industries were also introduced to different export opportunities on countries where the Philippines has FTAs and on countries which give Generalized System of Preferences (GSPs).

At present, the Philippines, as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), has existing FTAs with China, South Korea, Japan, India, and Australia and New Zealand. The country has also an existing bilateral trade agreement with Japan known as the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA).

Legaspi added that while FTAs open opportunities for local goods in FTA partner markets, FTAs also give foreign-made goods the chance to compete in the domestic market. Even goods that were previously intended for the domestic market should now be ready to compete with foreign-made goods. In the end, consumers benefit from these good-quality products.

Apart from the FTAs, the Philippines is also a recipient of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSPs), giving the country access to large markets such as the European Union (EU), United States, and Canada.

Local producers can now export over 6,000 products to any of the 28 member countries of the EU at zero tariff using the GSP+. Products that can be exported to EU without tariff include coconut and marine products, processed fruit, prepared food, animal and vegetable fats and oils, textiles, garments, footwear, furniture, and chemicals, among others.

“As tariffs go down, we need to work more closely with Philippine businesses to help them navigate the rules of origin requirements and to hurdle other barriers, for instance product standards,” said DTI Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo in a separate briefing of the exporters held in Davao city recently.

DTI emphasized the need for the country to adopt a mindset that gives priority in building a Philippine brand name known for its excellent quality that surpasses even the most stringent standards of foreign markets.

To fully integrate the efforts of the Department to achieve this year’s 8-9% export goal, EMB is continuously working to upgrade the quality of export goods and services so as to deepen penetration in existing markets and diversify into new ones. It aggressively promotes quality consciousness among local producers and actively supports the establishment of a strong national quality infrastructure (NQI).

To further promote product quality, the government is keen on: institutionalizing a supply chain group that would focus on key and emerging export sectors to accelerate export development; strengthening government training centers to ensure matching of available skills and industry requirements; encouraging the private sector to establish industry-led testing centers and skills development/training centers that will cater to the operational requirements of export-oriented firms; and broadening access of domestic producers to technologies and innovations, particularly those emerging from government programs and initiatives such as those of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Raise product quality to be more competitive in global markets

Legaspi further mentioned, “This [seminar] is for exporters to fully appreciate the current FTAs and opportunities that we have and to explore these markets. EMB would be happy to help them access the rules of origin and other market regulations.” (END)