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PH ready for full ASEAN integration in 2016

MAKATI CITY, Philippines – The Philippines is currently facing a bright future owing to its robust economic growth as it is projected to be ranked the largest economy in the Southeast Asian Region by 2050, according to Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo.
The Philippines is well positioned to seize opportunities and benefit from the upcoming full integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) next year, as it is buoyed by a high economic performance, which is sustained by several economic reforms.
“The country is in a sweet spot. We have been experiencing robust economic growth, consistent upward rankings in competitiveness, and successive credit rating upgrades. In fact, last year, the Philippines achieved an average growth rate of 6.3%, the highest five-year average during the past 40 years. That’s a very decent number which is probably one of the highest growth rates in this part of the world,” Domingo said in a statement during the recently held Wharton and Penn Alumni Association meeting.
He noted that based on projections by HSBC and Goldman-Sachs, the Philippines will be ranked as the 14th largest economy in the world, the 5th largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the Southeast Asian Region by 2050.
“We are even poised to surpass other ASEAN countries. We only need to step up our efforts to improve the competitiveness and capability of our various local industries, as we participate in regional and global trade,” Domingo added.
Furthermore, initiatives to liberalize the country now and then significantly contribute to the steady growth of industries.
In particular, the country’s manufacturing sector has been reported to be growing at an average rate of 8.8% yearly as a result of the diversification of local products and liberalization.
Domingo also emphasized the need to place micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) at the front and center of regional trade agenda. In the Philippines, MSMEs account for about a third of the gross domestic product, represent 98% of all registered businesses, and employ more than 50% of the entire domestic workforce.
“Among our key priorities is advancing specific and concrete interventions to promote the participation of MSMEs in regional and global markets, either through global value chains (GVCs) or as direct exporters of finished goods and services. We are quite successful in doing so during the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting. Member economies agreed to bolster the ability of MSMEs to participate in cross-border business through the ‘Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” he said.
The DTI Secretary also said the government continues to invest on infrastructure.
“Believe it or not, even though we have this terrible traffic, we do invest in the right infrastructure. We have tripled our infrastructure budget from around P165 billion in 2010 to P535 billion this year. That explains why we now see many trains, bridges, much better roads, and skyways. Traffic will not get better much soon. But, by the end of next year, we will already feel the benefits of an improved infrastructure system,” he said.
Moreover, Domingo said all of these endeavors are in line with the government’s efforts to accelerate trade and investment in the region while creating an enabling environment for businesses to prosper, as well as, ensuring that every Filipino participates and seizes opportunities in the global market.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.