The Philippine Star
Filipino businesses gear up for FIRe at 45th PBC&E
The world is on the brink of a technological revolution. In no time, it will transform how we live our lives, interact with others, and work.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab, who also coined the term “fourth industrial revolution (FIRe),” raised concerns such as the inability of organizations to adapt, failure of governments to employ and regulate new technologies to capture its benefits, creation of important new security concerns, growth of inequality, and fragmentation of societies.
In WEF’s 2017 assessment, the Philippines was categorized as one of the legacy countries for its strong production base. However, our future’s at risk due to weaker performance across drivers of production such as technology and innovation, human capital, global trade, and investment, institutional framework, sustainable resources, and the demand environment.
To gear up for the digital economy, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, will gather over a thousand local and foreign businessmen in the country at the 45th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E) from Oct. 16 to 17 at the Manila Hotel.
Bannering the theme, “Enabling business in a digital economy,” the 45th PBC&E will look into the dynamics of a digitally driven economy and how it impacts people’s growth and business sustainability.
The said theme is a follow-through of the 44th PBC&E’s theme, “Infrastructure and digital economy: The game changers.”
“We are getting ready for the digital economy. PCCI strives to remain proactive. We are tripling our efforts to address the unfamiliarity and unease that our local businesses face. The conference remains the most valuable platform for our businessmen and government leaders to disprove the disruptions, and inspire innovations,” PCCI president Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco said.
BUILDING THE FUTURE TOGETHER
“We have to prepare everybody for the digital economy or the upcoming fourth industrial revolution. In fact, we are lagging. We are one of the nations in the world that have the slowest Internet speeds, and we’re having difficulty trying to catch up. I’m sure that once we catch up, our competitiveness and efficiency will increase,” PCCI honorary chairman and treasurer Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. shares with optimism.
“Where we are good, we’ll be better,” Ortiz-Luis shares as he highlights the importance of discussions and preparations on the digital economy.
To kick-start the conference, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno-Domagoso will grace the PBC&E opening as the guest of honor. Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo will address the business community as the opening keynote speaker. President Rodrigo Duterte will also be present at the concluding ceremonies to address the Philippine business community.
Limjoco shared that for the twoday conference, the PCCI has lined up renowned speakers, panelists, as well as local and international experts in the field of digitalization and technology innovation. They will thoroughly discuss how businesses can thrive in a fast-changing business environment. They will mainly have a closer look at the opportunities under the fourth industrial revolution, education and upskilling of the workforce, and leveraging new technologies.
She added that business leaders, who come from different business sectors and from all over the country and world, will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts, expand their network, and explore business opportunities with like-minded individuals during businessmatching and networking sessions.
This year’s PBC&E chair, Dr. William Co, hopes to inspire and bring people together through the conference.
“I would like the delegates to see the value of the fourth industrial revolution as it affects us in the Philippines and the global setting. This disruptive technology is here to challenge our resolve in sustaining our businesses and upgrading our technology,” Co said.
“I hope that with this conference, our entrepreneurs will learn and bring with them some takeaways and strategies to be able to adapt to this fast-changing world,” he added.
ENABLING PEOPLE, ENABLING BUSINESSES
“I am optimistic that moving forward, we all recognize the power of working together and that when we enable people, we enable businesses,” Limjoco said. True to her word, the PBC&E has been a sounding board of issues, concerns, and recommendations of local business leaders. Co shared that the conference was
an important avenue where the need to enhance infrastructure build-up to improve physical connectivity, lower logistic cost, and improve power supply in tourism destinations were raised.
“Our program called the 5As (Arrival, Access, Accommodation, Attraction, and Activities), which will improve night landing facilities, have been done,” Co shared.
Moreover, Co shares that the conference and PCCI championed the RO-RO during the term of former president Gloria Arroyo, which made traveling to islands on a budget possible. On top of that, the conference helped heighten the improvement of local government’s frontline services for businesses and investments.
“PCCI spearheads an annual search to commend LGUs that have successfully enhanced or instituted an environment that is conducive to businesses. With the enactment of the Ease of Doing Business Act, the award can now complement the efforts of the government to institutionalize standards in delivering quality services to the people as mandated by the law,” Co told The STAR.
Limjoco also highlighted the Agribusiness Support for Investment and Regional Expositions (ASPIRE) project it rolled out in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry.
“We have been able to bring our farmers’ products directly to the markets through the project. Now, we see many of our members — the likes of Samgyupmasarap, Potato Corner, Barts Fruit and Merry Mango — sourcing directly from our farmers,” she said.
“We are going beyond the producermarket element. Seeing the success of our project, the USAID has committed to support us as we enhance the producer-to-market program by mapping out stakeholders such as those in the manufacturing and processed food industry, packaging, logistics, and financing, to ensure that these support services are made available to our producers and help them improve their access to markets,” she added.
DiRecTion of Phl
PCCI chairman emeritus and director for International Affairs Dr. Francis Chua said the 45th PBC&E is the right venue to know where the Philippines is today and where it is heading.
“PBC&E is a very important yearly event for the business sector, we welcome all decision makers to join us on October 16 and 17 this year to gain valuable knowledge vital for businessmen. To know where is Philippines now and where we are heading. We will hear directly from President Duterte and his Cabinet family why the Philippines is the darling of investors and financial institutions,” Chua shared.
George Barcelon, PCCI chairman and reappointed member of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council, said they seek a future where the Philippines will not just focus on low-end products and services, but compete with the rest of the world for technology-driven economic growth.
“Many of the PCCI constituents are MSMEs, and ease of doing business is very important to them. We hope this will be mentioned again by President Duterte and I’m sure this will be part of the PBC&E resolutions,” Barcelon said.
Voice of PhiliPPine buSineSS
Indeed, the PCCI has bridged gaps and created new roads for several years now. Limjoco, Ortiz-Luis, Barcelon, Chua and Co are optimistic that they will effectively carry out their role as the voice of the Philippine Business as it holds other PBC&E’s in the future.
“When I assumed the presidency of PCCI in Jan. 2018, I emphasized the value of partnerships to fulfill PCCI’s mission as the voice of the Philippine business. I believe we have more than fulfilled these. Through a stronger public-private partnership, I’d like to think that PCCI has been instrumental in enabling the outcome of a more competitive business environment,” Limjoco shared.
Meanwhile, Ortiz-Luis believes that both budding and veteran businessmen should take with utmost seriousness the upcoming FIRe.
“We cannot afford not be at par with the rest of the world or our ASEAN neighbors because we will be left behind. We have to teach the older generations about these changes and innovations. More importantly, we have to equip the younger generation for us to excel. And so, proper discussions and preparations on digital economy can propel us if we use it well. With this, we will be able to lift our country toward being a tiger economy,” Ortiz-Luis capped.