Exporters are facing tough road filled with serious challenges and gaps that need to be addressed to sustain growth, said Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT).

During its 30th anniversary celebration, Ortiz-Luis cited the “the small and major victories that we have achieved together in the last three decades” as champion for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Looking ahead though, he sees a tough road filled with serious challenges and gaps that have to be addressed to improve and sustain local exports. “And as proven in this pandemic, we do not have control of everything. Indeed, we have a long way to go to achieve our dream of becoming the next industrialized economy,” Ortiz-Luis said in a welcome remark during the celebration on Oct. 28.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict in particular combine to present a challenging and volatile environment for hard-pressed exporters and MSMEs, he said.

Hence, he said, the trade association must firmly lead its members through the uncertain post-pandemic world and the changing export landscape, which are forcing a sharp departure from past strategies for export expansion and development.

But the organization believes the worst of the crisis is over. Ortiz Luis cited to stirring signs of economic recovery. “The relaxation of quarantine measures in some countries, the gradual reopening of businesses, and the resumption of production suggest that the export sector is slowly getting back on its feet,” he said.

Since its inception in 1992, PHILEXPORT has been in relentless pursuit of export growth, propelled by a vision of catalyzing nation building through its support and protection of MSMEs and exporters.

Among the key accomplishments he mentioned is the group’s part in the monumental passage in 1994 of the Export Development Act (EDA), which led to the creation of the Export Development Council (EDC) and the National Competitiveness Council (NCC).

Ortiz-Luis noted that the EDA—also known as Republic Act No. 7844 or An Act to Develop Exports as a Key Towards the Achievement of the National Goals towards the Years 2000—set in motion the advocacies and programs that led to the crafting of the Philippine Export Development Plan or PEDP, the country’s roadmap to export growth; the issuance of the Magna Carta for MSMEs, the landmark legislation mandating development and nurture of the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit; and the implementation of export promotion and support funds.

The law also paved the way for the streamlining of export procedures and requirements; opening and expansion of market access; liberalization of key economic sectors such as banking, telecommunication, retail and franchising; and institutionalization of trade facilitation policies and laws.

“PHILEXPORT reiterates and renews its commitment to be an advocate and facilitator of positive developments for the industry, the organization and the country. We have the next 30 years and more to show fruits of this promise,” he concluded.