Press Release
January 25, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo to give equal attention to supporting and developing small- and medium-scale enterprises while the government is pushing for big ticket Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). He warned that an impending food price crisis will hurt the Philippines' food producers, which are largely SMEs, and will consequently have a great impact on food supply.

"It's almost going to be a certainty that food prices will escalate and that current wage rates won't be able to keep up with it ... Food production and distribution in this country is largely in the hands of small- and medium-sized producers," Angara said on Tuesday during the hearing of the Commission on Appointments. The CA's committee on trade and industry deliberated the appointment of Domingo and eventually confirmed it.

Angara urged Domingo to make the Department of Trade and Industry more proactive in extending credit and technical support to small and medium food producers. Aside from financing, entrepreneurs in the food industry direly need assistance in improving the processing and packaging of their products.

As a parallel strategy to stimulate the domestic SME industry, the DTI should be more active in drawing investments from foreign SMEs to the Philippines, Angara said.

While Angara strongly advocates for PPP investments especially in the science and technology sector, he said other investment opportunities that could offer returns quicker should be explored as well.

"There is a long gestation period before you can bring in these PPPs and they require massive amounts of investment. So it will not create the jobs that we need now," he noted.

Angara stressed that the DTI should also make it a priority to lure SMEs from countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan to the Philippines instead of just watching the likes of Thailand and Vietnam get their investments.

"They've got to move out of their domestic market because it's already crowded, highly competitive and costs are so high. They have to find a lower priced, more hospitable destination like the Philippines," he said of the SMEs from these countries.

Angara added that they would have an access to the market of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations, which is approximately half a billion people, as well as to incentives accorded to producers under the region's preferential trade agreements if they locate to the Philippines.

"We must evolve an investment promotion plan especially for SMEs from Japan, Korea and Taiwan."

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