Last year seemed to be very good for the Philippine economy. Many companies survived the ongoing financial debacle which swept Europe and the United States. The domestic economy far exceeded expectations by analysts and government officials. True to the Filipino spirit, entrepreneurs are sprouting everywhere, far and wide, to strengthen the SME sector. The growing SME sector is actually the real reason why the economy is still very much alive. The domestic economy is doing very well.
What we lack right now is foreign investment. That 7 plus growth in the domestic economy should have been higher had government been able to attract more foreign investments. I guest investors are still pretty cautious since they know that the Philippine economy is traditionally linked with the US economy, which is right now, teetering towards what many say, a financial cliff. The US is suffering from a trillion dollar debt, and the possibility of it falling off that cliff to wherever, is the serious worry of many.
I can safely say that even if the US do fall off that financial cliff, the Philippine economy will be resilient. Efforts made by Filipino entrepreneurs and exporters to find markets other than the United States is paying off. Asia is a big market, bigger than the US and North America. In this alone, Filipino entrepreneurs are seriously looking at entering their products into these markets.
China is a big market, which Filipino entrepreneurs are seriously going into. SM, for example, has just opened their third big shopping mall in China. SMB and Concepcion products are all over Asia, even in Australia. There is a big market for Filipino products. Instead of looking at puncturing the US and European markets, it is time for Filipinos to rethink their strategies and instead, dominate the nearest big markets first and then shift towards bigger ones in the stable future.
Of course, government is saying that the BPO sector is the biggest earner of foreign currency for the Philippines. This continues to be good but, on a strategic or long-term, the BPO is not. BPO earnings are still dependent on the condition of the US and European economies.
What I see is the possibility of government assisting domestic food corporations in punctuating other markets. There is a big market for Filipino food products. Government can help by assisting these corporations into entering other Asian economies.
Liwayway Marketing Corporation, for example, is one sterling case study of a Filipino company doing quite well in the regional scene. Do you know that your Oishi and other Liwayway products are some of the best loved snack brands in Asia? Liwayway has manufacturing plants in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
I can cite other Philippine products which have successfully established their brands in other Asian countries. Filipino entrepreneurs must look outward and must consider possibilities of puncturing external markets instead of just focusing on the domestic market. This strategy will bring further growth and development in the Philippines---bring those dollars here. Offer Philippine products abroad to generate dollars that would be infused into the domestic market to widen it and create more job opportunities.
Filipinos should think like internationalists. Entrepreneurs should not box themselves out. Entrepreneurs should expand their horizons.
Likewise, I see a very bright opportunity in the IT and tourism sectors. Many Filipinos are now being used by foreign content providers as their graphic design artists and content developers. As platforms develop and as the IT industry expands, this will further emphasize the need for people who are experts in creating apps and designs. We have a market for this, and Filipino firms should be able to exploit this to our advantage.
The expected opening of the Pagcor entertainment city will bring tremendous stimulus to the domestic economy. Positioning Manila as the newest and the grandest gaming or entertainment hub in Asia will definitely spur economic growth in the entire Philippines. DOT has reported a 4 million visitor count as of December 2012. If DOT can reach double by this year, think about the huge money these will generate for the country and the economy.
So, to emphasize, three strategies should be undertaken by the government and the private sector to sustain economic growth and development for 2013.
1. Think outside the local economy. Filipino entrepreneurs should start thinking of how to puncture other Asian markets and establish their brands.
2. The Philippines should be a hub for IT content developers and providers. The trend is not about developing platforms, which, needs a mature manufacturing sector to be able to viable. Make the Philippines as the content provider, the software creator of the world.
3. Make the Philippines as the biggest entertainment hub this year. This will attract more attention from foreign investors who will probably appreciate the beauty of this country and invest in the tourism sector. The tourism sector is still very young and underdeveloped.