Manufacture of computer, electronic, optical products in PH on the decline

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The manufacture of computer, electronic, and optical products in the Philippines continued its decline in July 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 with a -17.2 percent drop in production index.

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The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) says the producer price index (PPI) for the manufacturing sector continued its downtrend with an annual rate of -1.5 percent July 2021 compared to -4.8 percent in July 2020.

Earlier, Socioeconomic Planning secretary Karl Chua emphasized the importance of the manufacturing sector in the Philippines.

“If we are to grow and sustain our upper middle-income country status and eventually move up to high-income country status in the next two decades, we have to focus on agriculture and manufacturing. A strong, productive agriculture sector will provide a very good foundation for a competitive manufacturing sector,” he said.

Chua explained that in countries that experience successful structural transformation, agricultural workers are typically absorbed by the manufacturing sector. This paves the way for a capital-intensive and high-technology manufacturing sector, then eventually a high-skilled services sector, he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said during the recent Manufacturing Summit that the country needs to continuously build and enhance manufacturing firms’ capabilities and workforce skills, and the tools and means by which enterprises can be enabled to move closer towards Industry 4.0. 

DTI secretary Ramon Lopez noted that the manufacturing sector has been a key driver of the country’s economic growth in recent years and that, while it was severely impacted by the pandemic in 2020, it is now leading the economy’s recovery from a recession.

While risks and uncertainties remain, he stressed that innovation and digitalization will play a crucial role in ensuring business continuity and competitiveness under the new normal and called on government and the private sector to continue their active collaboration towards the resilience of the country’s industries.

“We are certain that digital technologies will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring a swift reaction to the crisis, ensuring business continuity, accelerating recovery, and most importantly, protecting workers and their employment,” Lopez said.

“Firms and enterprises must be agile to rapidly tailor production and supply systems and develop new capabilities to adapt to changes in consumer behavior. Amid changing production patterns, new technologies can be utilized to enhance supply chain visibility and reliability within domestic and global value chains.”

DTI undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, in her remarks during the event, stressed the imperative for digital transformation. “[O]ur I4.0 policies are geared towards the promotion of labor augmenting technologies, particularly the emergence of new tasks at which humans have a comparative advantage.

“New technologies like AI are not here to destroy jobs or replace humans, but to create new jobs and change what work looks like, augment human intelligence and skills and make our workplaces safer,” she said.

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