THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is reconfiguring the export industry into three clusters as a strategy to boost industrialization in the Philippines.

Speaking at the membership meeting of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) on August 31, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual listed the three clusters as: industrial, manufacturing and transport; technology, media and telecommunication; and health and life sciences.

"DTI's strategic priority [is] to reconfigure the Philippine export sectors into industry clusters... Export activities are Industry Tier I activities. They are considered as base of and fundamental to our country's development," said Pascual, who also inducted new PhilExport members.

"Export activities hold high potential to create jobs. They optimize value creation and provide key support to sectors that drive industrial development, among others," he added.

The country's industrial transformation will be driven by science, technology and innovation. He asked PhilExport's support for this DTI strategy, Pascual said. "We look forward to working with you, our exporters, in building dynamic industry ecosystems as our foundation," he said.

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In response, PhilExport President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said his organization will follow DTI's guidance toward the development of the industry.

"We strongly believe that exports remain to be a major driver of this growth, if only the whole of government will truly and fully support the industry, especially with the conducive policy environment and programs," Ortiz-Luis said.

Moreover, Pascual also noted that to grow in scale, scope and income, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) must be integrated into exporting companies' value chains.

"MSMEs are the backbone of our economy. They comprise 99.5 percent of about a million registered businesses in the Philippines. As MSMEs bring about a virtuous cycle of livelihood, they help make communities more prosperous and inclusive," the trade chief said.

PhilExport, the umbrella organization of Philippine exporters mandated under the Export Development Act of 1994, is the country's dominant exporters organization which is mandated, through the Export Development Act of 1994, to strengthen the country's export industry through its export promotion and development programs.