US traders told: ICT industries in PH ripe for investment

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Recent developments and policy changes in Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT/BPM) in the Philippines are making the country ripe for investment and poising it to ride a new wave of revolution in information and communications technology (ICT).

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This was the message of government officials and business leaders who traveled to San Francisco for a conference entitled ?Invest in the Philippines: Asia?s Bright Spot,? the third and final leg of a high-level trade and investment mission to the United States on June 29.

In his remarks, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. pointed out that the IT/BPM and ICT industries in the Philippines are very much alive and have been a strong driving force in the Philippine economy.

?The choice of San Francisco as the third city of this historic High Level Trade and Economic Mission to the United States is very appropriate. San Francisco, and Silicon Valley in particular, is the heartland of innovation and technology. And the importance of information and communications technology, which this city breathes and lives, is one that is not lost on the Philippines,? said Cuisia.

The envoy added, ?The first wave of the information and communications technology revolution transformed the Philippine semi-conductor industry into one of the most important segment of our economy. Today, the IT/BPM industry has been the fastest growing industry in the Philippines in the last ten years.

?In 2011, we overtook India to become the number one outsourcing destination for voice support. And the Philippines is second only to India as a global outsourcing destination, specifically in the areas of healthcare and software.?

However, the Philippines is still facing challenges in the IT/BPM and ICT industries.

According to keynote speaker Diosdado Banatao, managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital, a main challenge that remains for the country is infrastructure building in ICT, particularly the lack of Internet bandwidth, which he also noted as an area of opportunity for investments.

The government is addressing these issues through legislature aimed at reforming the country, boosting economic growth, and creating an environment conducive to investment.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, who participated in the San Francisco Conference, shared the Congressional agenda for the last year of the Aquino administration, which is to pass the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act in order to institutionalize reforms and best practices, amend the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter to strengthen its regulatory power, and approve the Customs Modernization Law to achieve trade facilitation and logistics efficiency.

According to Drilon, a bill to create the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is also on its way.

On June 2, the Senate approved the third and final reading Senate Bill No. 2686, which mandates the creation of the DICT. The bill would effectively create the agency charged with developing, planning, and promoting the government?s ICT agenda, as well as speed up the industry?s growth and competiveness by enhancing the country?s technology linkages with ICT firms abroad. The House version is currently being debated at the committee level.

There has also been a greater emphasis on education, which is further enriching one of the biggest assets of the country, its human resource.

Department of Trade and Industry secretary Gregory L. Domingo pointed out that the young Philippine workforce is only getting better due to the reforms in the educational sector such as the introduction of K-12 and doubling the budget of education.

Panelists in the conference agreed that with a strong, high-skilled and eager labor force, good political leadership, the ability to provide the required infrastructure, the Philippines has created an excellent business environment.

?It is our hope that this conference will generate not only investments in infrastructure and PPP, which are equally important to the continued success of the Philippine economic story, but also in the information and communications technology sector. Such investments from the United States will complement the Philippine Government?s investments, in the last few years, on the infrastructure, technology and human resources that underpin the growing Philippine economy,? said Cuisia.

The conference is the third stop of a high level trade and investment mission to the United States taking place from 24 to 29 June 2015.

The delegation made a pitch in Washington DC on 24 June and conducted an Economic Briefing and Investment Conference in New York on June 26.

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