Electronics exports hit all-time high
Electronics exports, which yearly account for at least half of outbound goods, reached $32.7 billion last year, marking an all-time record high, officials announced on Tuesday.
The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (Seipi) said the latest figure marked an 11-percent growth from the industry’s exports in 2016.
“That really is significant because it is the highest level of exports we’ve achieved since the beginning of the electronics industry,” said Seipi president Danilo Lachica.
It has been close to a decade since the industry reached a peak in terms of export receipts. Lachica said the industry exported $31 billion in 2010, a few years after hitting the same level in 2007. Since then, he said the industry’s performance had been “erratic.”
In total, the industry accounted for 52 percent of the country’s merchandise exports last year. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, total merchandise exports reached $62.87 billion, a 9.5-percent increase from 2016.
However, Seipi is dampening its expectations for the year ahead, targeting only a 6 percent growth for 2018.
For the past few years, Seipi has been conservative with its yearly targets. In 2017, Seipi expected a growth of 5-6 percent in export sales, while actual sales showed that the industry grew at least twice as much last year. In 2016, however, Seipi expected a 3-5 percent growth, only to end the year flat, or a 0.1-percent expansion.
Moving forward, Seipi is working on a roadmap that would increase the value-added capacities of the industry, with export sales expected to reach $40 billion in 2025 and $50 billion in 2030. Direct and indirect employment is expected to reach 5.5 million jobs in 2020, from the current estimate of 3.2 million direct and indirect workers.
The roadmap, called Product and Technology Holistic Strategy (PATHS), would require some investments in the country to put up facilities that would later on produce products such as smartphones, 3D printers and memory chips.
This would add more investments to the industry as Seipi expects an additional $1.5 billion in 2020, $3 billion in 2025 and $5 billion in 2030.
“On one hand, we can continue doing [what we’re doing] with the normal expansions, with the normal evolution of products, but that really didn’t take us beyond $30 billion. What we’re trying to do is infuse technology and new services to bring that up to maybe $35 billion, $40 billion and beyond,” he said.
He said the departments of trade and industry and of science and technology would still have to approve the roadmap, but noted that the draft has already been finalized.
This developed as the government prepares the second comprehensive tax package, which will lower the corporate income tax while rationalizing the tax incentives it offers investors.
Lachica said the group supported the initiative, but noted that they have suggestions that they would like to raise to the Department of Finance on Feb. 20.
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