The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the country can count on the manufacturing and agricultural industries to generate jobs and halt the increasing trade deficit.
Secretary Alfredo Pascual told the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship virtual meeting on Monday that the only way for the country to have a sustainable and inclusive economy is through industrialization.
He particularly cited manufacturing where Filipinos can have stable and high-paying jobs.
“Unless we do that, we should forever be holding to the inflows from OFWs [overseas Filipino workers]. We’ll be sending more people abroad to earn the dollar so we can do the importation here. That’s not sustainable,” Pascual said.
He said the DTI is trying to encourage local enterprises to introduce consumer goods, like processed food products which the country still imports.
“That was the answer I was hoping for, actually. So, I think we’re on the right track when we say that we want to have higher value paying jobs,” Senator Sonny Angara told Pascual, who discussed the agency’s priority agenda and plans to address trade deficit.
A trade deficit occurs when a country spends more on imports than it earns in exports.
Pascual said the Philippines produces agricultural products that can undergo further processing, like cacao, coffee, bamboo, and fiber.
“One of the strategies we’re adapting is to create industry clusters,” he said.
Pascual said the Philippines is supplying 20 percent of coffee requirement while importing the other 80 percent.
He also cited banana plantations where workers are not earning as much as the ones who are working in banana processing and manufacturing enterprises.
To create industry clusters and improve the manufacturing industry, Pascual suggested that DTI should be left alone handling the products that are being processed without the intervention of the Department of Agriculture.
“These are agricultural products but they can go further for processing to meet domestic demand and also be able to tap the export market. Either we get full operation from the Department of Agriculture or we just take care of the farmers in producing these crops or improving the quality of these agriculture products,” Pascual explained. (PNA)