Philippine MSMEs will thrive in 2015 ASEAN integration — DOST

By Juzel L. Danganan

MANILA, July 21 (PNA) — Philippine micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will thrive in the 2015 integration of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to Department of Science and Technology (DOST) IV-A Regional Director Dr. Alexander Madrigal on Monday.

”…There is no reason that our SME’s will be apprehensive, because since 2010, our SME’s are already surviving and are already competing with other products coming from ASEAN countries,” Madrigal said at the LaBreza Hotel in Quezon City during the “Something is Brewing in the MSME Sector” press conference.

He added that 99.86 percent of Filipino products are without tariff, with the exception of sugar, rice and other basic commodities.

However, Madrigal pointed out that the intra-ASEAN level of trade is not being fully utilized by the Philippines, in terms of selling to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, among other member states in the ASEAN economic community.

He also mentioned that the strategies to boost the competitiveness of the local MSMEs should be studied.

The DOST has been of great assistance to MSMEs, through peripheral assistance, training and free consultancy services, to further boost their trade sales.

The consultancy services costs approximately 35,000 PHP, but is given for free on the condition that the MSMEs adhere to the recommendations of the consultancy firm, whom are often industry players.

On the other hand, the MSMEs have to solely fund the cost of the application of recommendations.

Specifically, DOST XI Regional Director Anthony Sales admitted that the Davao Region cannot compete with other ASEAN countries, due to lack of product innovation and the current demands of food safety requirements.

Mindoro, on the other hand, is assured that many of their assisted MSMEs are currently exporting their products.

DOST Region IV-B Regional Director Dr. Maria Josefina Abilay said that the assisted MSMEs are consistently supported through mentorship programs.

Moreover, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is ready for the integration with its high quality packaging and services, yet is focusing on giving farmers timely and accurate information on the most appropriate time for product selling.

Meanwhile, a target of five to six food processing centres are projected to be opened in the country, which will likely help the low-budgeted MSMEs. To date, Region 2 and Region 11 are the only areas with the food processing centers.

About 600 million customers are based in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) area and will be a good market to venture in. (PNA)