Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector will take the lead in “diversifying” the export base in the medium-term export development plan.

“We really need to diversify our exports since now, a big chunk of our exports are accounted for by basically the big exporters and big sectors like electronics at 60%, our other agriculture products and processed food,” Mr. Lopez said during the Laging Handa press briefing on government TV.

“We are seeing now a strength in the service export like IT-BPM and the creative services including film, music, software, and game development,” he added.

The industry will be counted on to take a more prominent role when it issues the Philippine Exports Development Plan 2022-2027 (PEDP), he said.

In October, a study conducted by the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines projected the industry’s revenue at will hit $28.8 billion in revenue by end of this year, with growth of 8% in 2022.

Mr. Lopez also noted the potential in other products such as gifts and housewares, design-oriented garments and furniture, and halal items.

“Halal exports ar basically a green area for us, meaning it’s full of potential (that) we haven’t tapped yet. There’s a market worth $3.30 trillion which we haven’t maximized,” Mr. Lopez said.

The department also said it needs more certifying bodies to accredit products as halal, compliant with Islamic dietary rules.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) issued preliminary data indicating a 6.3% increase in the value of exports in September to $6.68 billion, against the year-earlier growth level of 3.4%.

Separately, Mr. Lopez said he is in favor of relaxing social distancing rules from one meter separation to 0.75 meters, in order to allow stores and restaurants to admit more customers.

“We are currently considering that especially inside the restaurants,” he said, noting that so far, the department hasn’t received any complaints from other businesses.

Under the current protocols imposed by the DTI, there should one meter of separation is required on all sides for restaurant seating and queuing areas. Other establishments are also required to observe one meter of social distancing.  – Marielle C. Lucenio