THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is pursuing a strategy of encouraging more local manufacturing, targeting goods for which there is heavy import demand, such as pharmaceuticals.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on the sidelines of the Manufacturing Summit 2017 that the department has identified pharmaceutical products as one of the industries that has room for local manufacturing.
“We will be more aggressive. Right now, we just import and import, so [what] if we study which of the products here being imported can we start producing here?” he added.
“Pharmaceuticals is just an example but it can really include any heavily imported item especially if it’s an essential. We would talk about cheaper medicine and we import from this country and that, so why not manufacture it here?”
The DTI will also target for local manufacture those items with high technology content and value-added, to bring the country more in line with a paradigm known as “Industry 4.0,” which employs more automation and artificial intelligence.
Mr. Lopez added that DTI is also working on new incentives for technology deployment, equipment, and shared services to help persuade foreign companies to move or expand their operations in the Philippines.
“It will be a multinational’s decision to make this country a hub for production so we want to participate in that. We’re buying so much from you, why not commit to production in-country? That’s what we want to offer,” he added.
Separately, Mr. Lopez said the government is currently in negotiations to lower tariffs for agricultural products with South Korea, Japan and Australia.
“We’ve lowered their tariffs here but they haven’t lowered the tariff on our products, like bananas. We’ve already told South Korea that we’ve lowered tariffs on their fruit to 5% but our bananas and other fruit exports are still at 25% to 30%,” he added. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato