Despite being confident of hitting the $50-billion exports target this year, exporters yesterday pressed for an integrated government approach to pull the country's export sector out of the woods and be able to catch up with the rest of the Asian neighbors.
Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport), told participants at yesterday's conference on the "State of Philippine Competitiveness 2006."
Ortiz-Luis said that while the January-May export performance with 16 percent improvement seems to point to an achievable $50 billion export target for the year, the export sector is not yet out of the woods.
But to make the Philippines a truly exporting economy, Ortiz-Luis stressed the need to overcome the $8-billion trade deficit last year, and aim for sustained trade surplus.
This can be done by expanding the Philippines indigenous exports, those that use mainly local raw materials, and make full use of the creative of energies of Filipino artisans, artists and craftsmen.
He pushed for the design-based exports like garments, fine and fashion jewelry, furniture and home furnishings, which next to electronics, are holding their own in the international marketplace.
These are confirmed winners although many exporters have complained of having to compete with cheaper copies of their original designs from China and elsewhere.
And yet this design-based commodity exports is just a small fraction of the creative industries sector as huge potentials lie in the fields of virgin territories like animation, movie making, book publishing, interactive media.
Thus, he lamented the long to go to get results in policy reforms that could help aid the exports sectors.
For instance, he cited defining law on exports -- the Export Development Act of 1994 and a few other key national economic reforms but the incentives it grants are yet to be enjoyed.
"The job, however, is far from done. In real life, policies are slow at becoming actual reality," he lamented.
The export sector, he said, is still pushing hard other changes like the modernization of customs procedures, practices and systems, and the upgrading of Philippine ports to name just one of our priority concerns. …