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Keynote speech of  DTI secretary Ramon M. Lopez during the opening ceremony for the CIIE Philippine National Pavilion

(GMT+08:00) 2018-11-08 16:07:47       CRI

Shanghai -- Opisyal nang binuksan Nobyembre 6, 2018 ang pambansang pabilyon ng Pilipinas sa idinaraos na unang China International Import Expo (CIIE), pinakamalaking ekspo ng Tsina. Sa seremonya ng pagbubukas, bumigkas si Ramon M. Lopez, Kalihim ng Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ng talumpati.

Narito ang buong teksto ng talumpati ni Kalihim Lopez:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

In behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, I would like to thank our friends in the People's Republic of China for inviting us here at the China International Import Expo.

I would also like to thank my good friend, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan, for his hospitality in providing us with this space. I remember the time when I first broached the idea of holding a trade exposition to him. That idea has finally become a reality with the holding of this International Import Exposition. The Philippines recognize Minister Zhong Shan's untiring efforts to continue bridging China-Philippine relations through more trade and investments.

This year's International Import Exposition is the first international expo here in China that features foreign exhibitors. A brainchild of President Xi Jinping, it is a testament to China's commitment to trade liberalization. Featuring more than 100 foreign trade buyers, the Philippines is thankful and excited to be part of this exposition.

China is the largest country in the world today in terms of population. It is the second largest country in the world in terms of economic activity, the second largest importer and consumer in the world, and the fastest growing economy in recent history.

With such a big potential market, several countries compete against each other to obtain even a small space in China's growing trade activities, such as this exposition. The Philippines is very fortunate to be provided a space in this very in-demand expo.

This grand gesture of friendship is a living testament of our two countries' shared history and culture. The Chinese people have been deeply rooted in our society. Even before the Europeans and the Americans traded with our ancestors, there has been a robust trade between our two peoples traced back to the ninth century.

Since Rodrigo Roa Duterte assumed the Presidency in 2016, the Philippines has forged an even closer trade relation with China. You are one of the Philippines's top trading partners. China is number one in terms of total trade, amounting to 25.5 billion dollars in 2017. This year, between January and August, total trade so far accounts for 19.6 billion dollars. China is our largest import partner at 17.5 billion dollars in 2017, and fourth largest export partner at 8 billion dollars in the same year.

This ever-improving trade relation has enabled many Philippine enterprises to gain a foothold in China's mainstream market, such as Oishi, San Miguel, Tanduay, and Team Asia, among others.

The Philippines is now participating in this International Import Exposition to further showcase what our country can offer to our friends from the Chinese business community.

Prior to this event, we conducted several roadshows around the Philippines to drum beat participation, and we were not disappointed. As it turned out, there are hundreds of Filipino traders and industries that wanted to participate. Had Minister Zhong Shan provided us with a bigger space, we could have brought all of them here. (LAUGH)

For this year's exposition, the Philippines is honored with a national and enterprises pavilion measuring 136 square meters—one of the biggest among the expositors—housing 57 exhibitors. We have 36 exhibitors from the commodities and services sector, 11 universities, and 10 partner government agencies and companies.

Our national pavilion showcases a preview of the Philippines as a destination of choice for trade, tourism, and investment. We are thankful for our exhibiting partners for making our national pavilion a success. Allow me to recognize them: Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Tourism, and the Tourism Promotions Board.

On the other hand, our enterprises zone features two products and goods halls. We have the food and agricultural hall that features 28 food exhibitors, and the apparel, accessories, and consumer goods hall featuring five consumer goods exhibitors (for apparel, accessories and consumer goods, electronics, automobile, and information technology), and three service exhibitors for tourism and service outsourcing.

Quickly, allow me to recognize our partner-exhibitors for the enterprises zone: Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., Philippine Airlines, Anvil Business Club, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc., and the Integrated Development Studies Institute.

The Philippines has a lot to offer to our Chinese friends in terms of investment opportunities. Among these are the following:

1. Parts manufacturing and assembly of:

 bicycles, electric bicycles (for export and domestic market)

 electric vehicles, for public transport (e-jeepney) for export and domestic market

 light vehicles, trucks and buses

2. Light industries manufacturing including high-end garments like cut and sew operations, bags particularly of luxury brands, and related non-polluting textile manufacturing for export

3. Components manufacturing and assembly of solar photovoltaic for export

4. Components manufacturing and assembly of electronic and electromechanical items, particularly those containing optical devices for export

5. Manufacturing of building materials particularly of glass, and other-related products

6. Processing of high-value added food and fisheries products

7. Infrastructure projects like road and bridges

8. Tourism projects like resorts and hotels

9. E-commerce such as setting up Regional Operating Headquarters

Why invest in the Philippines?

The Philippines is one of fastest growing economies in Asia, with one of the largest domestic markets for consumer goods. It has a young, large, innovative and cost-efficient talent pool that is adaptive to changing technology. It has a resurging manufacturing sector, pursuing inclusive and innovation-driven industrialization. It has a thriving startup ecosystem with notable capabilities in embedded systems, financial technology, and artificial intelligence.

Further, the Philippines is recognized as one of the most competitive countries in the world, climbing from 68th place to 56th place in the 2018 Global Competitiveness Ranking of the World Economic Forum.

The Philippines is becoming a destination of choice for foreign investments, thanks to the leadership of President Duterte and his determination to enact policies to further improve our country's industrial strength.

The Philippine manufacturing industry remains one of the main contributors to our economic growth, growing by 6.6 percent for the first half of 2018. Reviving and transforming the Philippine manufacturing industry is the government's approach in achieving sustainable growth and the main thrust of the country's new industrial policy.

We are currently pursuing a 239.8-billion-peso manufacturing resurgence program (MRP) that aims to increase the manufacturing sector's contribution from 23 percent to 30 percent of total value added by 2025, through improvements in human resource capability, advancing micro, small and medium enterprises, funding research and development, and infrastructure support.

On the other hand, infrastructure remains a priority sector with public spending in the sector targeted to reach as much as seven percent of gross domestic product within the term of the current administration. Also, the country's confirmation of its membership in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) highlights its commitment towards improving infrastructure.

The proposed budget for infrastructure for 2018 amounts to 717.1 billion pesos, targeted to sustain President Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" Program that aims to have high impact projects rolled out to increase the economy's productive capacity, create jobs, increase incomes, and strengthen the investment climate leading to sustained inclusive growth.

There are currently 70 projects in the pipeline of Build, Build, Build, in road construction, mass transportation and infrastructure modernization sectors.

The administration of President Duterte always looks after the concern of investors and have presented positions in many fora when it comes to investment incentives.

One of these reforms is the second tranche of the tax reform program. It is a comprehensive tax reform program that aims to reduce corporate income tax rate and rationalize fiscal incentives to make it time-bound, more performance based, relevant and focused on strategic sectors. The end-results are to boost foreign investment and to generate jobs for our people.

The provisions in the second tax reform package includes provisions that even removes the bias against foreign investors and between export and domestic market orientation.

More relevant incentives are now being considered such as double deduction on research and development, accelerated depreciation and net operating loss carryover. We must benchmark our incentives to make them more competitive compared to other ASEAN countries. Income tax holidays will continue, more project based, time bound and performance based.

Another one of our policy changes in promoting foreign investments is to make doing business in the Philippines easier. Just two weeks ago, we have submitted the implementing rules and regulations of the Ease of Doing Business Law for our President's consideration. This legislation aims to make government processes easier by rationalizing and automating business application processes, cutting out red tape, and making government transactions easier and more efficient.

We hope that with all of these policy proposals, you will be more enticed to support our growing economy by investing in our industries and services.

In closing, allow me to recognize the organizations that took part in organizing the country's national pavilion: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC), Board of Investments (BOI), Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTIC) in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, and the Bank of China (Head Office).

To our friends in the Chinese business community, thank you for warmly welcoming the Philippines to this international exposition. I hope that through this activity, you will learn more about what things we can offer to you.

Xie xie! Thank you and mabuhay!

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