Home » Opinion, The Export Advocate » A Rosier Picture

It is ironic that as the export community celebrates the National Exporters’ Week this month, it is again experiencing serious challenges. The September export performance saw exports plunging 27.4 percent from $5.34 billion to $3.87 billion in the same month last year. Month-on-month, exports fell 6 percent. Such sluggish performance continues to be attributed to uncertainties in the global market, particularly in the US and EU. While the decline was expected, it was still a huge blow to the industry. What is there to celebrate then?

We can count our blessings, a stance that is after all consistent with the holiday season.

First, despite the decline in performance, there is optimism due to a number of reasons, including reaping the fruits of our efforts to promote exports to our free trade agreement partners mostly in Asia: China, India, Korea, Japan. We see more of such agreements next year, possibly including that with the US and EU. These are significant developments because they are very market-focused, aside from being the results of expansive stakeholder consultation.

A recent newspaper article also reported that the US, among our major markets, is well on its way to recovery, evidenced by improved consumer holiday spending, reduced unemployment, better housing industry prospects, and an active stock market.

Second, there are positive developments in the public-private partnership or PPP program. This strategy can bring the needed investments especially for infrastructure.

Third, the rolling Philippine Export Development Plan or PEDP has been launched and should serve as guide in our export offensive in the next three to six years. Our wish is that the appropriate government resources can be allocated to facilitate the successful implementation of the plan.

Fourth, the President and his cabinet are very much involved in the National Competitiveness Council, even as PHILEXPORT and the Export Development Council are also deep into the work. The high-level meetings and work plans crafted for the working groups are expected to gradually but finally address perennial problems such as red tape, weak infrastructure, Customs computerization, education and the like.

Fifth, PHILEXPORT remains committed to deliver our mandate to serve the industry with programs and projects. Our modest resources have and will continue to build and enhance enterprise, region- and sector-level capacities; empower members with relevant information and advocacy; facilitate import and export documentations; address day-to-day operational issues; and link members to our extensive network for goodwill and further support. Government agencies, despite the many criticisms and shortfalls, are likewise mandated to play their respective roles and carry out programs to complement what PHILEXPORT is doing.

Sixth, the climate change challenge is drawing worldwide involvement in saving natural resources, something that the Philippines is well-endowed with. We just hope this collective effort will not come too late.

Seventh, another silver lining in the economy is coming from sustained domestic consumer demand, particularly this holiday season. Such demand is buoyed by OFW remittances that are also resilient so far. We hope that both can keep our economy afloat until global trade recovers.

And there are more good news that can inspire us to focus and persevere. We can only count on one another to be one another’s partner and support. We should be vigilant against any attempt to distract us from pursuing the tuwid na daan tungo sa kaunlaran. Most of all, we should all be involved in the continuing drive towards nation building.

Again, the stakes are huge. We are talking about the future of our country and that of our children’s children. Our country and people deserve no less than the esteemed stature we once achieved as a nation. We intend to bring back this glory for our country. And we are doing this in a way that we know best — through exports.

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