TURNOVER. Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual (right) and his predecessor Ramon Lopez hold the agency's flag during the turnover ceremony held at the Board of Investments Penthouse in Makati City on June 29, 2022. Lopez has finished his six-year term, leaving a "sterling legacy," according to Pascual. (Photo courtesy of DTI)

MANILA – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual has identified his priority areas as the new chief of the agency.

During the turnover ceremony on Wednesday, which was only broadcast on Friday, Pascual cited that his priorities as new DTI chief would are the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); promoting the manufacturing sector; facilitating ease of doing business; attracting investments and expanding export markets; and restructuring the organization.

He said he envisions the expansion of MSMEs – from micro to small, small to medium, and medium to large enterprises.

This, he said, would be possible through adopting digital technology, innovation, linking MSMEs into the supply chain, developing regional industries, and improving their competitiveness.

Pascual also said MSMEs play a critical role in addressing challenges in food security in the country.

He likewise pledged to continue the One Town One Product and Shared Service Facility programs of the DTI that were implemented in the past administrations.

For the manufacturing sector, Pascual said he eyes to continue DTI’s Manufacturing Resurgence Program and work on closing supply chain gaps in the local market.

He said the department would continue to update and craft industry roadmaps for sectors that will have massive job generation for the country.

As the world remains under a pandemic, Pascual targets to strengthen the pharmaceutical sector.

“(W)e will also encourage international pharmaceutical companies operating domestically to contract their manufacturing to local players,” he said.

Pascual also aims to further strengthen the manufacturing of electronic goods and semiconductors amid the rise of data centers and hyper-scalers amid the increase in digital activities globally.

He likewise echoed the vision of his predecessor Ramon Lopez to have integrated mineral processing in the country for value-adding activities instead of exporting minerals as raw materials.

“The Philippines can be a vital partner for critical minerals, not only exporters, but to be a processor for semi-finished and finished products,” he added.

Under his watch, Pascual said the DTI would be closely collaborating with the Department of Information and Communications Technology to pursue digitalization in the government to further ease doing business in the country.

He also cited that the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and pursuing other free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries will also be his priorities.

“As you may know, the Philippines has the least number in terms of Asean countries that have signed FTAs with foreign countries. These agreements will diversify the country’s exports in terms of products and services and country destination, and enhance foreign investments,” Pascual added.

He said he is also eyeing a restructuring of the organization by reducing unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, in which “tweaking of workforce budget may be needed.”

“I invite you all reigniting the private sector businesses, which are the country's engines of growth. Run with me in setting the momentum, not in a hundred-meter dash, but in a sustained marathon of sorts facing a multi-kilometer run challenge to rejuvenate the heart of Philippine commerce and strengthen the muscle of industries coming from the devastation of the two-year pandemic and other uncertainties we are facing,” Pascual said.

Meanwhile, he thanked Lopez for leaving a “sterling legacy” in the department.

Lopez said serving as the DTI chief from 2016 to 2022 was “the best six years of his career” as he believes he brought “meaningful service” to the Filipino people. (PNA)