In order to reverse the widening trade deficit and boost the growth of the economy, Senator Sonny Angara said there is a need to shift the government’s focus to producing more high-value industries and higher paying jobs.
Concerned over how the Philippines’ Association of Southeast Asian Nations neighbors have outpaced the country in terms of economic growth, Angara said a serious assessment of local industries must be done with the objective of helping them move up the value chain.
“While our trade deficit is worsening, our neighbors such as Vietnam and Indonesia are posting surpluses. Is this a sustainable direction for us as a country or do we want to reverse this? We need to find out if we are on the right track in terms of producing higher paying jobs and higher value industries. If the data shows we are not, then we have to reverse track at some point,” said Angara who is Chairman of the Committee on Finance.
During a hearing of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual said there is currently an effort to shift towards industrialization as the only way to sustain economic growth and make it more inclusive.
Agreeing with Angara’s observation, Pascual said the shift towards industrialization will pave the way for the creation of more stable, better quality and higher paying jobs and reduce the country’s dependence on the remittances of overseas Filipino workers to prop up the economy.
Angara said there is a need to track the data from the industries, particularly those that produce goods for export to see the changes in the level of income of its workers over the years.
“There is a need to track how incomes have fared in our industries and zeroing in on those that do a lot more processing and value adding. This is how we will know if you’re on the right track and if your per capita income per industry is increasing,” Angara said.
Over the past few years, the Senator has embarked on a “Tatak Pinoy” advocacy that aims to upgrade the capabilities of local industries in order to produce higher value products, generate better paying jobs for Filipinos and help the country move towards industrialization.
As an example, Angara cited the semiconductor industry that historically dominates the export pie of the country but the goods are merely components of more complex products that are usually exported back to the Philippines.
With the proper interventions from the government, Angara said Philippine industries could eventually produce high value and complex products that would generate more revenues from exports, create higher paying jobs while reducing the country’s dependence on imports.
“The DTI should meet with the domestic manufacturers and ask them why they aren’t occupying higher producing product spaces. If they say that they lack the skilled manpower or technology or partners, then there should be a corresponding push from the Department with regard to this,” Angara said.
“We should look in this direction of having more higher paying jobs and higher value products. Our GDP per capita has been increasing but only incrementally. If we’re looking for more dramatic increases we need to make changes in this direction,” he added.
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Senator Sonny Angara