MANILA is eyeing to get a “respectable” market share of the firms pivoting from China, particularly in the semiconductor industry, as part of its “catch-up plan” to reverse decline in exports amid the global economic slowdown. A statement released by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) on Friday quoted Frederick Go, Presidential Adviser on Investment and Economic Affairs, as saying the catch-up, which includes attracting foreign investments and investing in infrastructure, targets to realize the country’s “untapped” export potential of $49 billion. Go said his office is working on how to support the electronics sector which comprises about 60 percent of the country’s total exports. “The industry has only grown bigger and given the Philippines status as a top global exporter of electronics with the particular strength in the semiconductors; it is an opportune time to fully harness the potential of this sector and to create an entire ecosystem that produces high-value products for the global market,” Go said during the general membership meeting of Philexport. The Presidential Adviser on Investments and Economic Affairs described what’s happening within the Asia region: “There is a pivot now away from China by a lot of the Western as well as the Asian countries and a lot of the attention is now going to our neighboring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.” “The most important part of my office’s job now is to ensure that the Philippines gets a respectable market share of this pivot away from China, especially in the semiconductors sector,” Go said. At a televised interview two weeks ago, Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Inc. (Seipi) President Danilo C. Lachica said the industry revised this year’s projection for semiconductor and electronics exports from flat to a decline of around 9 to 10 percent in exports, compared to the industry’s $49-billion exports sales in 2022. The Seipi head noted that the board decided to lower the industry’s growth projection for this year on the back of inventory correction issues and the global headwinds. In a forum in October 2023, Lachica revealed to reporters that he was still waiting to seek an audience with the Office of the President regarding the issue of incentives rationalization in the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) law. He said addressing such issue would help attract more investments and allow the Philippines to be on a par with its Asean neighbors. He earlier pointed out that potential investments into the semiconductor industry in the Philippines have gone to its neighbors in Asean such as Vietnam, because of the lack of a development strategy, which Vietnam is implementing. Asked if the Philippines should mirror Vietnam, the Seipi head said in October, “We don’t necessarily have all the money that they have but at least make an attempt to focus on the industry, [and not just what] what we’re doing today. Something has to be done, otherwise, the industry will die.” Oxford Economics earlier noted that despite the “general downtrend” in electronics, Vietnam’s “six-month winning streak” is being driven by exports of electronics, especially to China. “We see signs that it will remain a key beneficiary of China Plus One strategies. Indeed, Vietnam is emerging as an alternative to China even for Chinese firms themselves,” the United Kingdom-based think tank said. According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), export earnings from January to October 2023 amounted to US$60.91 billion, a 7.8-percent decline from the US$66.08 billion recorded in the same period in 2022. Trade officials earlier noted that the government won’t hit its exports target for 2023.

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