With e-commerce transactions growing exponentially in the last few years, the national government has finally released the first roadmap for the local e-commerce industry.
The development plan covers the next four years or 2016 to 2020. It was drafted by the e-commerce division of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) about 15 years after the passage of the E-Commerce Law in 2000.
The roadmap, which was created with inputs from local stakeholders such as e-commerce advocate Janette Toral, seeks to address a number of issues in the e-commerce ecosystem that requires collective effort of various industry players.
The executive summary noted that the comparative data it gathered have shown that the Philippines is missing out on a lot of opportunities brought about by e-commerce.
“While a lot of opportunities exist, there are challenges that the country still has to face to be able to maximize the benefits of e-commerce,” the document read.
The roadmap presented recommendations in six key areas highlighted in the APEC Digital Prosperity Checklist. These areas are as follows:
1. Infrastructure: The need for an appropriate supply chain, communications, and applications infrastructure;
2. Investment: The ability to promote and support a range of investment opportunities from Foreign Direct Investments to capital flows;
3. Innovation: The ability to foster and support innovation, including the ability to protect innovation and investment in research and development;
4. Intellectual Capital: The ability to foster the appropriate skills and training from technological to linguistic to entrepreneurship;
5. Information Flows: The ability to use, transfer, and process information — the currency of the digital economy — while promoting privacy and a trusted Internet environment; and
6. Integration: The ability to connect domestic industries with the global economy.
Like most online-based industries, the roadmap emphasized the need for speedy connection in order to promote the widespread adoption of e-commerce in the country.
“A fast, reliable, and affordable Internet service that is accessible by citizens even in the rural areas is a basic requirement that government needs to address,” it stressed.
A section on infrastructure also includes recommendations concerning systems and applications that support e-commerce such as e-banking, e-payment, logistics, including the provision of an Online Dispute Resolution system to address consumer complaints.
It also highlighted the need to address the tax system to make it easier for online sellers and freelancers to comply with the tax regulations of the government.
“More government agencies should be able to provide full online services to the business sector and the citizens,” it suggested.
The roadmap also observed that may be a need to amend existing legislations and regulations to attract more investments in e-commerce.
With regard to tech startups, the plan acknowledged that is important to nurture them from the development stage up to the point when their innovations will become commercially viable and rolled-out within the country.
“E-commerce enables domestic industries and enterprises to integrate into global value chains and to directly access the global market. E-commerce is an equalizer as it will enable even micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to directly penetrate the global market,” it underlined.
The government said the plan is not a standalone roadmap as it will be supported by other major initiatives such as the formulation of the National Broadband Plan led by the ICT Office under the Department of Science and Technology, and the National Retail Payment System project led by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
“In turn, it will support other initiatives such as the implementation of iGovPhilippines, the Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups, and the APEC Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” it said.