Startups urged: Be exporters

By Victor Anthony V. Silva |March 29,2017 - 08:33 PM


Entrepreneurs told to avail of DTI program to help them export their products

More start-up businesses were encouraged to take steps to become full-fledged exporters as the export industry is expected to experience a rebound this year, a trade official said.

Asteria Caberte, director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI-7), said now is the time to capture opportunities by participating in various government interventions.

“Our intervention covered all small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) before, but now we are focusing on priority areas,” she said at the sideline of a capacity-building seminar for gifts, decors, and houswares (GDH), fashion accessories, and furniture sectors in Cebu City on Wednesday.

Among the DTI’s priority export clusters are coffee, cacao, processed fruits and nuts, bamboo, wearables and homestyle, rubber, processed meat, and processed fish.

Ripples Plus program

DTI, though its Export Marketing Bureau’s (EMB) Ripple Plus program, aims to make SMEs export-ready as well as to enhance their export capacity and competitiveness.

Ripples stands for Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters, a joint program of the EMB, DTI-Regional Operations Group, Philippine Trade Training Center, and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions launched in 2008.

The country’s export performance has dwindled in recent years, with several exporters closing down operations in the last half-decade due to the soft demand from the global market.

Enroll in DTI programs

But now that the industry is picking up, it is time for existing and would-be exporters to take advantage of the prospects in front of them by enrolling in DTI’s programs.

“The Philippines is expecting a rebound this year. In fact, it has already been felt by the more resilient ones. They’ve been up and about as they maintained their presence in the market,” said Caberte.

Export winner

Citing UK-based Oxford Economics, an Inquirer report stated that the Philippines was named as one the “winners” in the Asia-Pacific region whose export growth “strongly outperformed” global demand in the last seven years.

In a report titled “Asia globalization winners and losers trade places” released last March 27, the advisory firm identified the Philippines, China, India and South Korea as the countries that posted “robust gains in productivity and/or moved up the value chain, gaining global market share in the process” from 2010 to 2017.

7.8% growth

Oxford Economics data showed that from 2010 to 2016, the Philippines posted a compounded yearly export growth rate of 7.8 percent, surpassing India’s 5.4 percent, South Korea’s 5.3 percent, China’s 4.6 percent, Indonesia’s 4.1 percent, Malaysia’s 3.7 percent, Australia’s 3.2 percent, Singapore, Thailand’s 2 percent and Taiwan’s 1.4 percent.

Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) earlier in March showed that merchandise exports jumped 22.5 percent year-on-year to $5.13 billion in January this year, reversing the 3.9-percent decline during the same period in 2016.

State planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), meanwhile, attributed this growth to recovering global economic prospects.

Join exporters league

Fenina Bonoan, assistant chief of EMB’s consumer and industrial division, said they have long been campaigning for startups to join the league of full-fledged exporters.

“That’s why we have trainings and info seminars like these,” she said in a separate interview.

Ripples Plus provides SMEs training and capacity building, market access, and support for innovation, among others.

Bonoan said financing is the most common issue faced by startups when it comes to transitioning to export operations.

She said that it would entail expenses for registration, certifications, and product development, among others.

While the DTI also provides avenues to link SMEs with financing institutions, the agency’s thrust is to raise these businesses’ competitiveness so funding will come easily.

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