Aboitiz echoes ABAC PH call to ‘go digital’ in COVID-19 economic response
The Aboitiz Group is supporting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council Philippines’ (ABAC PH) recommendation to adopt a digital transformation approach to address the short- and long-term economic impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Digital technology has already disrupted businesses and jobs. Now, COVID-19 has ushered in a ‘new normal’. “Online tools and digitally-enabled platforms should be accessible to businesses and individuals to operate and work in a post-COVID environment,” said ABAC member and Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz.
ABAC PH believes digital connectivity is critical in addressing the logistics and competitiveness challenges of the Philippines.
“We need to fast track building the infrastructure to establish the digital highways that would interconnect the Philippines’ 7,100 islands. This is critical to stimulate our local industries and create the scale in order to fully engage in international trade and be part of global value chains,” said ABAC PH Chair Tomas Alcantara.
“We need to harness digital innovation to take advantage of our young and talented population, and ensure a future-ready workforce,” he added.
ABAC PH stressed that government interventions should integrate digital technologies to provide innovative solutions in facilitating ease of doing business. This will also improve productivity and efficiency in support programs such as financial inclusion and adaptive learning and training.
In a letter to Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, ABAC PH called on the government to implement measures, including possible efforts with Association of Southeast Asian Nation neighbors and key trade partners to ensure the free flow of goods and services.
“This kind of initiative builds trust, fosters trade, promotes open markets, and more specifically, facilitates the movement of people and helps secure a steady supply of food, which is necessary as the region fights this pandemic,” said Alcantara.
With businesses restarting and economies reopening, ABAC PH urged for public-private dialogue to discuss strategies and lessons that would best benefit the Philippines in the short and long term.
This week, business executives in the region called on APEC trade ministers to lead in reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure that trade remains ‘fit-for-purpose,’ especially in responding to the pandemic.
ABAC 2020 Chair Dato’ Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood of Malaysia said, “WTO rules must also be updated for the digital age and support aspirations for sustainable and inclusive growth.” This includes substantive outcomes on e-commerce and a permanent moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmission.
The ABAC was created in 1995 by APEC leaders to provide advice on the implementation of the Osaka Action Agenda. It currently serves as the voice of the business sector, specifically providing information on business-related issues or providing the business perspective on specific areas of cooperation.