Tag Archives: dept.of trade and industry

Bullish sentiments Downsouth —

By Hernani De Leon
BusinessWorld Online
November 16, 2010

DAVAO CITY — Feedback from regions in Mindanao indicates a bullish sentiment in past months. New shops and offices are opening and property developers are aggressive in marketing campaigns. These are positive signs after a slight economic slowdown that started in 2008 and a power crisis that crippled the island’s industrial areas in the first semester.

Expansion moves, however, are anticipatory and not hinged on higher demand. Power consumption, a solid indicator of growth, is short of projection. A couple of years ago, it was estimated that power demand this year will outstrip supply, currently at 1,300 megawatts (MW).

Latest power demand figures from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines show roughly 1,200 MW at peak level. Lower-than-expected demand could be traced to the mining industry’s delayed takeoff. Capacity utilization of steel plants in Iligan City, estimated to require at least 100 MW, apparently did not meet expectations.

There are no surges in prices of construction materials, another proof that housing demand is not as high yet, even as some sectors complain of lower revenues given the strengthening of the peso’s value against the US dollar. While wage adjustments took effect three months ago, proceeds from overseas worker remittance went significantly lower, taking its toll on consumption during the Yuletide season.

Mindanao’s exporters, meanwhile, are in a crisis. The banana industry, which posts as high as $700 million in export receipts annually, is anticipating losses to reach over a billion pesos. A volatile exchange rate will have a significant effect on annual supply contracts. Take note that an annualized P1 loss in foreign exchange rate will automatically mean P700 million in losses from the industry this year.

That could mean less food on the table of plantation worker families this Christmas. At four dependents per worker, the crisis can affect half-a-million individuals in Davao Region as well as thousands in nearby south-central Mindanao which host some plantations.

Local government units, not only the regional offices of the Department of Trade and Industry, should also be concerned with substandard products sold on sidewalks and in retail establishments. Often, only Trade and Industry personnel are looking into this issue and there were cases when erring entrepreneurs would even drop names of their city hall protectors.

Cheap substandard products could bring disaster during the holidays. Consumers who lack the technical background sometimes decide based on deceptive product packaging. For electrical appliances or gadgets, one should be wary of the wire’s thickness since a thin wire gauge could cause fire when the line is overloaded, or when the appliance is left operating overnight.

Checking if the wire is safe enough for hours of use is easy. Simply feel it after a few hours while the appliance or gadget is operating.

If it is hot, better unplug the appliance immediately, or take it to a technician to have the wire replaced. That would cost less than a hundred pesos, a small amount to keep your home safe.

Believing there is no other way but up, private sector leaders are driving the economy in the last few months. The same entrepreneurs, however, are at a loss justifying high expectations. Many admit the administration’s Mindanao agenda is so far vague, with rhetoric on achieving peace and security and speeding up economic development as priorities in the island.

One challenge is to harness local government institutions in achieving economic objectives, which has yet to get attention from national leaders. The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) was created by the previous administration early this year but it has yet to harmonize local government policies with national objectives and integrate regional efforts into a strategy that could bring in results.

As previously pointed out in this column, MinDA could be another redundant unit — an excess baggage, if you may — in the bureaucracy that the administration wants streamlined. A recent report that the authority’s chairman will coordinate with regional development councils to integrate plans only means the agency is redundant.

Integrating development plans is a function of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). Another agency doing the same work implies inefficiency unless that agency takes the role of a bigger regional unit of NEDA. Its chief goal is to have a NEDA undersecretary for Mindanao.

That should have been the setup for its predecessor, the Mindanao Economic Development Council, but politicians in Congress passed a law creating MinDA instead. Despite limitations, MinDA should perform well as the country’s counterpart BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area.

It should also be an effective overseer of small projects related to the peace process. Ideally, NEDA should confine itself into development planning and should turn over small projects to MinDA.


18 US firms to explore investments in Mindanao

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Nelson V. Constantino and
Joe Del Puerto Felicida
September 13, 2010

AT least 18 US firms have signified their intention to send their delegations to the upcoming “Orobest Expo 2010,” an event that will be held parallel to the 19th Mindanao Business Conference (Minbizcon) and the Mindanao Investment Forum on Sept. 16-19 in Cagayan de Oro City.

Jaime Rafael U. Paguio, president of the host Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Incorporated (ORO CHAMBER), said the Americans are bringing along with them their top products and technologies for display during the OTOP Mindanao Island Fair and Orobest Expo 2010 inside the Limketkai Atrium.

“The presence of American businesses and displays in the Atrium would already manifest that indeed US is coming back to pour in more investments to Mindanao,” Paguio said.

US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas will be the keynote speaker at the opening of the fair.

For his part, Conference Director Ruben Vegafria hopes the Minbizcon will open the eyes of American investors on Mindanao even as he expects the existing American firms in the region to tell their counterparts that Mindanao is definitely a good place for business.

“The first Orobest last year was partnered by US Commercial Service, proving the American’s renewed interest in Mindanao after having been told by us not to leave Mindanao as an investment destination,” Vegafria said.

Several American firms are already doing good business in Mindanao. For this, it could be better if more of their counterparts would be enticed to come to Mindanao not only for a look-see, but also to show their products.

The move of further drawing American investments to Mindanao is expected to cast opposition, particularly from so-called anti-American groups. However, Paguio pointed out whatever investment that is not detrimental to Mindanao is good for Mindanao.

“We only welcome to Mindanao those foreign companies that would take a very close look and respect our laws and our environment,” Paguio stated.

He was confident, such foreign firms would not only generate jobs, but would also give Mindanao a good face to the entire world that this is a place where business thrives.

Paguio asked the oppositors to show basis, saying without such basis, he would think “we should also look at what new investments could offer for the common good of the people of Mindanao.”

Aside from luring some one billion peso new investments to Mindanao, Minbizcon intends to come up with position papers on various concerns that the government is expected to address.

According to Paguio, some of these concerns were already taken up in various round-table discussions.

“At the end of the conference, we will have set a set of resolutions that we will hand over to the President for him to look into. That could be one of the most significant outputs of the conference, he said.

Vegafria said business students are also invited to the conference for them to be able to know the prevailing business climate here in Mindanao, and what the business sector and the government are doing.

Meanwhile, Oro Chamber Vice President for Manufacturing Ghaye Alegrio said this year’s Minbizcon is adopting a very different approach of not only presenting to the government the call-to-action.

“Now, we are getting the commitment of the groups. For instance in power, we have the power stakeholders to advocate for government actions on such particular concern,” she said.

This, she added, ensures that proper advocacy is carried out in getting the attention and action of government.

Meanwhile, over one hundred micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMES from the different regions of Mindanao are coming to Cagayan de Oro City to showcase their best products.

The Department of Trade and Industry Region 10 (DTI), together with Oro Chamber will host the Otop Mindanao Island Fair 2010 (OMIF 2010) and the Oro Best Expo 2010 at The Atrium, Limketkai Center.

DTI-10 Regional Director Alicia V. Euseña said that with this year’s theme of “Showcasing the Best of Mindanao”, the OMIF 2010 will feature products and services of One Town One Product (OTOP) Program from the Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 CARAGA, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). These products include fashion accessories, fresh and processed food, gifts and housewares, furniture, organic and natural products, HALAL and other MSME products.

This is the second time that Cagayan de Oro City will play host the OTOP Mindanao Island Fair. The first one was in August 2008 at the same venue which generated sales of P33 Million.

New OTOP products will be launched during the OMIF 2010 which is expected to attract more local and institutional buyers. The event will also feature the “Semi-Processed Materials Expo 2010” organized by the Bureau of Domestic Trade, the Designers’ Productivity Build-up prototypes, buying mission and the special setting showcase for the Mindanao regions.