Philippines needs policy framework for creative economy – ADBI

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines should come up with a comprehensive policy framework that would allow the creative economy to recover from the pandemic and contribute to sustainable development moving forward.

Tokyo-based Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), the multilateral lender’s think tank, said supporting creative industries would not only boost income and job creation and expand value chains, but also aid in achieving sustainable development.

In the ASEAN region, ADBI said the Philippines, alongside Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, has been promoting trade in creative goods and services over the past years.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic impeded such progress and resulted in job and income losses.

“In the Philippines, a huge segment of the industry relies on freelancers who are estimated up to four times as many as those in the formal sector, but are unaccounted for, making it more difficult to assist them during the pandemic,” ADBI said.

“Given the ongoing pandemic, a comprehensive policy framework for the creative economy must be developed to support the people and the economy to thrive and recover in the post-pandemic era,” it said.

The country’s creative economy shares as much as seven percent of the country’s overall economic output. It reproduces some $3.2 billion in creative services, consisting mainly of software and information technology services, animation, game development, digital marketing and design services.

Unfortunately, there is no creative economy center or government agency in the country focused solely on this.

The proposed Creative Industries Development Act seeks to form a council to implement a plan to encourage the growth of the creative industries covering audio and audiovisual media, creative services, cultural sites, design, digital interactive media, performing arts, print and publishing, traditional cultural expressions and visual arts.

Offering a large potential for socioeconomic growth, ADBI argued that comprehensive policy responses for the creative economy need to be in place to assist in its recovery and assure its resilience and sustainability, both in normal and unprecedented circumstances.

“Challenges remain, especially due to the lack of appropriate policies to support the industries. Insufficient financing and financial sustainability and a lack of standard valuation for creative work could stagnate its growth,” ADBI said.

On a global scale, the sector lost some $750 billion in gross value-added by cultural and creative industries worldwide in 2020.

To further boost the creative economy, ADBI suggested that digitalization be adopted by supporting technological innovation, strengthening infrastructure for digital readiness, and facilitating digital transformation in all related sectors, areas and groups of people.

And while technology is being maximized, the think tank emphasized that it is important to nurture creative talents, which cannot be replaced by automation, to avoid extreme job losses.

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