Trade dep’t sees 2018 manufacturing growth of 10% within reach

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Mitsubishi Motors Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Osamu Masuko inspect a locally-assembled Mitsubishi Mirage. -- PHILSTAR

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects 10% growth in 2018 for the manufacturing sector to be within reach, amid a series of programs to revive industry.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on the sidelines of the Manufacturing Summit 2017 at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati that he expects manufacturing to grow at a steady pace until the end of the Duterte administration, aided by the department’s manufacturing resurgence program (MRP).

“So, 9.4% [is where we are at now and] it’s not far-fetched that we can sustain [it] to 10% to 11% if you ask me. But… we have to put up certain policies,” he added.

The manufacturing sector posted 9.4% growth in the third quarter, the highest in seven years. DTI data show that the manufacturing sector accounted for at least 25% of gross domestic product.

In his keynote address, Mr. Lopez discussed DTI’s new industrial strategy, focused on technology-based and high-value products.

“That’s why [all the sectors] should push for innovation so that they will have value added, it’s unacceptable that we will not be relevant anymore,” he added.

On the government’s side, the DTI is looking into products which can be locally manufactured to substitute for imports.

It is also pushing hard on the MRP, which includes the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program which gives incentives to three car companies that will be assembling vehicles in-country.

DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba said that Toyota Motor Philippines, one of the CARS program participants, will also start with local assembly of Vios small cars. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. has started locally producing its Mirage small car.

The third slot for the CARS program will be given to the manufacturer selected to supply the Department of Transportation’s public utility vehicle modernization program. Ms. Aldaba added that DTI still expects the program to produce one million locally assembled vehicles a year.

Ms. Aldaba also said that the DTI is launching an industrial human resources project, which forms phase two of the department’s industrial strategy plan from 2018 to 2021, to identify key skills needed for various industries. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato