PSC Holds the First Philippine Services Conference
October 4 – Industry experts, business executives, and leaders from key services subsectors came together in the first Philippine Services Conference and Roundtable Discussion held at the Makati Diamond Residences, Makati City. The conference is the first major event of the revitalized Philippine Services Coalition (PSC), the leading services organization designed to act as the voice of the country’s dynamic services sector and represent the industry’s diverse interests in relevant trade in services and policy issues.
With the theme “Creating Synergies and Value for Global Participation,” dialogues were held among the key stakeholders to surface the issues and challenges faced by the industry in the context of ongoing regional trade initiatives, such as the ASEAN Economic Community, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (explored by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation).
Status of the Philippine services industry and outline of strategies to improve the sector
Representatives from the government, local and international services industries, and trade experts shared their knowledge in the substantive sessions. For the first session, “Assessing the Growth Environment for the Services Sector”, Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba and Dr. Cielito F. Habito, Chief-of-Party for USAID’s Trade-Related Development Project talked about the current conditions and key aspects of the Philippine services industry. Ms. Doris Ho, Philippine Services Coalition co-chair, gave a response to the presentations of both speakers and stated the need for a long-term direction for the industry and consistent follow-through to improve the competitiveness of the sector. Mr. Cris Frianeza of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry moderated a discussion among the three resource persons and open forum to wrap the first session.
The second session, “Defining Strategies for a Globally Competitive Sector”, featured National Economic Development Authority OIC-Assistant Director-General Mr. Carlos Abad Santos and Ms. Hanim Hamzah, Board of Founders member of Indonesia Services Dialogue. Mr. Abad Santos discussed the policy reforms, initiatives, and strategies the government seeks to implement to make the country’s services industry more competitive, while Ms. Hamzah talked about Indonesia’s services industry and its experience in liberalizing the sector. Mr. Alvin Juban, Game Developers Association of the Philippines President, gave his response to the discussions and shared about the need for government support in pushing for a more competititive services industry. The three resource persons participated in a discussion with open forum moderated by Makati Business Club Executive Director Mr. Peter Perfecto.
Ms. Glenda Reyes, an independent trade consultant, wrapped the substantive sessions by discussing the key provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement with the audience.
Drawing sector-specific issues, challenges, and reforms
Five services subsectors were identified as key growth drivers \ for the services industry and Philippine economy, and thus, were the focus in the afternoon breakout sessions. These include Professionals (engineering, architecture, accounting, legal, medical, nursing, dental, tourism, surveying professionals), Creatives (animation, gaming, and IT), Health Services and Medical Tourism, Construction and Public Utilities and Transportation and Logistics.
Participants took part in the five simultaneous focused group discussions moderated by academic experts, covering the issues and challenges facing the selected subsectors especially in the context of ongoing regional trade agreements. They were encouraged to give their views and positions on the Philippines’ participations in international trade deals, as well as what they deem should be done to improve the competitiveness of the respective subsectors.
Charting the future of the Philippine Services Coalition
Views and positions drawn from the group discussions were summarized by the moderators and reported to all the participants. Insights from the discussions will be compiled into an in-depth report to be submitted to the government for their review and future action, as they continue to craft the roadmaps and long-term plans for industries and the Philippine economy.
Outlining the next steps for the coalition at the conclusion of the conference, concurrent PSC executive director, Mr. Perfecto, said that more in-depth dialogues between the government and specific services sub-sectors will be convened to determine the bottlenecks and outline the measures needed to boost their competitiveness. The PSC intends to participate in the discussions in the ASEAN Summit to be hosted by the Philippines in 2017, as well as continue its engagement with Asia-Pacific Services Coalition and will build a larger representation for the country’s services sector in future regional meetings.
As the coalition works on extending its reach and expanding its membership, it also plans on holding regular meetings with invited resource persons to discuss critical developments in the industry. With this, the PSC hopes to champion the policies and reforms needed to strengthen and advance the Philippine services sector on the global stage.