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SMEs in AEC 2015 will spur PHL economic growth – PCCI

Getting local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) ready to participate in the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 will be key to propelling the country's economic growth further, a business group said.

"It is only by harnessing the huge potential of these economic cooperation agreements that we will be able to minimize and manage effectively the risks and maximize the full potential of our economy and firm enterprises," Philippine Chamber of Commerce and lndustry (PCCI) President Alfredo Yao said during a recently-held workshop by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

In the first quarter of 2014, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.7 percent in January to March, compared with 7.7 percent a year earlier.

In 2013, full-year GDP was at 7.2 percent compared with the 6.8 percent expansion in 2012.

At the same event, Philippine Exporters Confederation, lnc. (PHILEXPORT) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said the government and business groups should help the small businesses to make adjustments.

PHILEXPORT, for its part, partnered with the Export Development Council (EDC) and a network of partners including the DTI and business organizations to assist SMEs in the AEC 2015.

"While the World Trade Organization is still struggling to bring down world trade barriers, platforms like the ASEAN Economic Community and other free trade agreements are gaining more success in terms of reducing or breaking market entry and access issues," he said.
On the side of the government, DTI Assistant Secretary Blesila Lantayona assured that they are putting together resources to prepare SMEs for this integration.

"We have prepared long before this integration is happening, we have orchestrated an SME development plan and identified various support services that SMEs can access to help them be more competitive," she said.

By 2015, the AEC sets in motion the creation of a single market and production base for the 10-nation bloc where there will be a free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. — JDS, GMA News