Freeman Cebu Business

Exporters urged to converge with other ASEAN traders

Ehda Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – PhilExport-Cebu aims to usher in a series of programs this year to encourage local exporters to converge with other export traders from ASEAN member countries. This is to penetrate the over 650 million consumer base in the region and to strengthen their position in the world market.

PhilExport-Cebu president Nelson Bascones said the convergence of expertise in the export sector within the region could save industry players from a dwindling market.

However, Bascones said while the export sector is bent on initiating their own efforts , it would still be best if the government will back them up.

Following the initial observation that exporters within the region are competing against each other, he said it would generate better results if export players learn to interact and offer themselves as complementary suppliers of other exporters in the region.

Bascones further said at present, the trend is not looking healthy for the newly integrated economy and if the government and the inter-ASEAN advocacy group will not act on it immediately, exporters might just learn the new dynamics on their own.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam for instance are the top three competitors of the Philippines in terms of export products. Marketability however, is seen to improve if exporters of these countries and the Philippines will converge and help each other.

"Our strength is talent," he said, the Philippines also has raw materials that are endemic to the country, combining each other's expertise and competitive edge could save the region's ailing export sector.

"We are only hoping against hope that ASEAN could save the exporters within," Bascones said explaining that what is happening now is that exporters within the ASEAN bloc are panicking, guarding their own market-base against fellow ASEANs.

Bascones expects that with this fresh strategy of convergence and complementation, the export sector could find a relief from its current frail standing.

Earlier, Cebuano businessmen were told to strengthen its regional penetration and supply chain as intra-regional trade will enter as new business paradigm in the ASEAN integration, and that member countries should not see themselves as competitors--but as one united economy conquering the world market.

Economist Cielito Habito made this warning saying that it is not enough for Filipino businesses to guard their market turf in the Philippine ground, as the ASEAN will open up a wider market ground for businesses to conquer the world as a region.

"We are part of the ASEAN, in fact the Philippines is part of the original five. ASEAN is not them it’s 'we'. ASEAN countries cannot afford to quarrel with each other, "said Habito.

On the other hand, he also warned that if businesses are not ready with the intra-regional trade paradigm, they will not be able to cope with the expected disruptions of the supply chain, and that they will also carefully examine and be ready to face the downside of this opportunity, as the transition will make its correction. (FREEMAN)

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