Home » SCMAP Perspective » A Fortunate Alignment

For some, the Prosperity for All Summit—the ASEAN Business Advisory Council conference held last April 28—may seem similar to a supply chain conference. The speakers—a veritable who’s who from government and business, not just from the Philippines but across the region—spoke a fair bit about supply chain and logistics: the region’s need to enhance its capacities and capabilities as it continues its quest for economic integration.


There was talk of the impact of e-commerce. There was talk of how important enhancing connectivity between countries are. There was talk of the important role entrepreneurs play in keeping economies moving. The main theme was helping out micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises, which form a majority of businesses—80%, to be specific—based in the ASEAN.


For us at SCMAP, it’s great to hear that our advocacies and engagements in recent years fit in place with priorities the ASEAN countries have set for the region. This year, for instance, the group is launching the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurship Network, which will connect business experts with entrepreneurs across the country.


If that sounds familiar, it’s because a similar program was already launched in the Philippines: GoNegosyo’s MentorMe program, which launched last year and went on full blast a few months ago, links local entrepreneurs with business experts. SCMAP is one of the program’s partners – we signed a memorandum of agreement formalizing ties last September – with our expertise contributing to supply chain seminars offered to entrepreneurs across the country. (The ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s head this year, Joey Concepcion, is also the head of GoNegosyo. Figures—a good idea is a good idea.)


That is just one plank in SCMAP’s efforts to expand supply chain education, not just through our own events but also through collaborations with different stakeholders from government and the academe.


We also recently saw the launch of the first ASEAN RORO route, connecting Davao and General Santos to Bitung, Indonesia. The new route further opens trade between the two countries, especially its heavily agricultural regions. Faster trade, too: goods no longer have to go to Jakarta, shaving several days off a trip – this means fresher produce, better quality produce.


This initiative has been in the works for many years, and SCMAP has lent its support from the beginning, providing valuable input during the consultation process. (If you’ve taken part in our events from five years back or so, you might remember this coming up in some talks.) This is in line with our long-standing commitment to working towards port modernization and efficient supply chain processes.


This route is just the first: there are many more in the works across ASEAN – important, considering that three of its member countries are surrounded by water, and two are not accessible from other countries by land. Two of these routes will come from the Philippines: one connects Palawan to Malaysia, and another proposes a link from Batangas to Vietnam via a stop in China.


Some of our other efforts promoting connectivity include our work with the DTI and DPWH on their ROLL IT program, and just last week, our promotion of Subic and Clark as an alternative trade hub, especially for those in the north, an initiative led by our newly established North Luzon chapter.


It’s heartening to see that, day by day, more realize that supply chain plays an important role in ensuring progress for everyone. It’s no longer just a buzzword; it’s an essential element. Now, we’re not claiming credit: ASEAN’s work towards enhanced connectivity was laid in place over decades, more so when they realized that successful economic integration requires better connectivity. But, in our own little way, we have been working towards that, too. And, yes, the caveat, as always, is that there is more work to be done.


Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications executive of SCMAP. A former board director, he is also editor-in-chief of the organization’s official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.

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