In its flagship program on Philippine industrialization under the Marcos administration, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will push science, technology and innovation-based industrial initiatives to grow globally competitive and innovative industries in the country.
During the Senate public hearing of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, officials of the DTI discussed its priority legislative agenda and status of trade and industry in the Philippines.
Science, technology and innovation will be the key toward inclusive and sustainable industrial transformation and development for the Philippines, said Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba. Prioritizing science, technology and innovation will "put our industries in a better position to enable us to face competition from exports as well as within the domestic market and paving the way for the country's industrial transformation," she said.
"With new technologies along with the application of science and innovation, we will be able to introduce new and better products in the market along with services, and this would lead to creation of new jobs and better income opportunities with the emergence of new industries as well as the introduction of environmental goods," Aldaba added.
She noted that adopting new technologies would also help in terms of improving industries' production efficiency and better use of energy and materials leading to industrial competitiveness as well as providing linkages to supporting activities.
"In terms of the foundation, we're looking at, of course, competition, innovation, productivity and industry ecosystem in order to help the country attain an inclusive and sustainable industrial transformation and development," Aldaba said.
To attain inclusive and sustainable industrial development for the Philippines, Aldaba said the DTI will implement its "Dynamic Industry Ecosystem" that primarily involves embracing Industry 4.0, upsizing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups, integrating industry development, trade and investment, enabling economic environment to attract more investments, upskilling and reskilling workforce, and pushing regional development, innovation and entrepreneurship.
One of DTI's main goals is to transform industries toward an increasing share of STI-intensive sectors to gross domestic product, Aldaba said. To help achieve this, she said the Trade department will promote creation of more innovative MSME and start-ups. "We are focusing our efforts toward upgrading our MSMEs. We want more micros to graduate into becoming small, the small to medium and the medium to become large," she said.
As for integrating Philippine industry development, trade and investment, Aldaba noted that the DTI will work on linking manufacturing with agriculture and services as this would enable the government to address gaps in the supply and value chain and "defend" its global value chain participation allowing the Philippines to expand its trade and investment, diversify its export products, trading partners and investment partners.
Another strategy of the DTI toward the country's industrialization is to promote regional development through innovation and entrepreneurship, with emphasis on accelerating research commercialization in the regions.
Aldaba said the agency will likewise double efforts on upskilling and reskilling the Filipino workforce. "As we adopt all these new technologies, we need to ensure that our workforce would be ready especially in terms of the competencies and skills that would be demanded by industries in the future," she added.
For 2022-2028, the DTI identified priority industry clusters, namely industrial, manufacturing and transport; technology, media and telecommunications; health and life science; modern basic needs, resilient economy, of which will be the focus under the digital transformation plans of the department under the Marcos administration.
"We welcome any move to facilitate the establishment of enterprises in these industry clusters that we have identified because I believe... that by industrializing, especially in the areas we have identified, we would be able to provide higher-quality jobs," said DTI Secretary Alfredo Pacual.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, over 1.5 million more Filipinos joined the labor force in June 2022 compared to the same month last year, bringing total employment to 46.6 million. But while latest data showed a significant increase in the number of workers employed on a full-time basis, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that "the government should incessantly boost its efforts toward providing an environment conducive to the creation of more and better employment opportunities."