PHILEXPORT seeks further support for businesses amid pandemic

The country’s umbrella organization of exporters is pushing for further support for businesses, particularly on financing, as the export sector is expected to be among the drivers of economic recovery after the coronavirus.

“The stronger economic recovery in the third and fourth quarters this year is premised on the projected rebound in exports that should hasten the return of the Philippines back to pre-pandemic level by the third quarter of 2022,” Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said during the group’s general membership meeting.

He said the government expects the Philippine economy to recover to 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in 2021, while international economic think tanks such as Oxford Economics’ project the economy to achieve as much as 8 percent.

“We see the agriculture sector leading the recovery, with food and natural-based health products remaining to be a major global requirement henceforth. If we can shift paradigms and fix regulations, we hope mining ore exports could grow too, since requirements for mining goods don’t stop, especially from China,” Ortiz-Luis added.

He said the country now aims for $105 billion to $130.8 billion in goods and services exports by 2022.

To boost business growth amid the pandemic, Ortiz-Luis underscored the importance of providing direct support, specifically financing, to firms even as the country has started rolling out first coronavirus vaccines.

He said the capacity of institutions such as the SB Corporation to respond to borrowers with ease and flexibility should be facilitated.

“Aside from this program, the need to assist MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in training, mentorship and market development is ever more important now that the domestic and international markets have substantially changed in form and requirements,” he added.

Ortiz-Luis said it is also imperative to reskill and upskill the country’s workforce to adapt to new technologies towards digitalization.

He is optimistic of the passage of laws such as the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill which is expected to “attract more and the right kinds of investments”, particularly in underdeveloped regions in the country.

Ortiz-Luis said the group also supports, among others, the amendments to the Public Services Act, Magna Carta for MSMEs that will free the SB Corporation from its regulatory accountability under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Warehouse Receipts bill that aims to expand MSME lending with the use of movable collaterals, and amendments to the Charters of agencies such as the Philippine Ports Authority to help reduce the cost of shipping.

“These proposals should be taken as a package, as they will be addressing various aspects of business operations towards recovery, resilience and eventual resurgence,” he added.

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