SANTA CRUZ, Laguna, March 18 (PNA) — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has embarked this month on its series of briefings for Laguna’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through its SME Roving Academy on the challenges and opportunities on the ASEAN Economic Integration by 2015.
The SME Roving Academy (SMERA) program was held recently at the Laguna Provincial Capitol Compound where Senen Perlada of the DTI’s Bureau of Export Trade Promotion conducted briefings and forum on the ASEAN economic integration (AEI) benefits.
Perlada told the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs here that ASEAN which groups 10 member-countries is an economic bloc that generates nearly 600-million consumer base.
This translates to some US$ 700 billion dollars in gross domestic product and an immense business opportunity that must be fully exploited, urged Perlada.
The DTI export trade promotion official also doused speculations of entrepreneurs who may view this as a threat and instead urged them to explore and take advantage of the ASEAN integration next year.
He also provided an overview on how exporters could avail of preferential tariffs for products under free-trade agreements with other economies from among the ASEAN bloc.
Perlada elaborated “a tuna supplier faced with scarcity of supply overturned the situation by studying options under a free trade agreement”.
Learning of the zero percent tariff, the supplier imported frozen salmon from New Zealand, processed it into smoked salmon then exported it to Japan, Korea and later on to New Zealand, Perlada added.
He also cited similar situations where wood and lumber that are imported from Vietnam can be made into door jambs and furniture and then be exported.
The DTI SME Roving Academy resources person also enumerated automotive, textiles and apparel, wood, rubber and agro-based products, fisheries, ICT, healthcare, air travel, and tourism that abound in Laguna are among the AEI’s priority sectors.
During the forum, Marilou Quinco-Toledo, DTI Calabarzon Regional Director explained that SMERA is an integration of various services provided by all government agencies and private organizations.
“We are delivering these services right into your doorstep, so it will be felt in the countryside particularly this time that the SMEs are the priority sector in the AEI,” DTI Regional Director Toledo said.
She explained that SMERA is a continuous learning program for the micro, small and medium enterprises to become competitive in the domestic and international markets.
The DTI Calabarzon Regional Director also pointed out that SMERA is a tool to reach out for the enterprises to be provided business information, management and skills training.
“The SME Roving Academy helps determine and understand one’s business needs to be able to avail of the government’s proper intervention,” Director Toledo advised.
Elmoise Afurong, the National Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Council’s representative for Luzon also shared his views on the challenges faced by the MSME sector on the AEI in 2015. (PNA)