Stakeholders bullish on PH manufacturing growth prospects

·3 min read

INDUSTRY watchers are optimistic about the recovery in the manufacturing sector.

Speaking at the virtual Security Bank Economic Forum, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last year, the manufacturing sector, particularly those in the essential category have remained operational, helping the economy move albeit at a slower pace.

“The positive side to this is, with these kinds of lockdowns that we have, it prioritized basically manufacturing as continuing 100 percent like basic foods, essential products, exports, even information technology-business process management, we allowed them 100 percent even in an ECQ set-up,” said Lopez.

Security Bank’s poll question during the forum revealed that 73 percent are optimistic about the overall recovery of the manufacturing industry within 2021 to 2022.

Lopez said with the easing of quarantine restrictions, factory operations are resuming and demand is picking up.

Food, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and other fast-moving consumer goods, according to Lopez, have shown resilience during the crisis.

Gregory Banzon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Century Pacific Group, said the outlook for the manufacturing sector, especially for food, is looking bright this year.

“We continue to be bullish,” said Banzon, noting that amid the pandemic Century Pacific Group has been growing 20 percent year on year.

Century Pacific Group is a food processing firm and is one of the country’s biggest tuna canners. Its business is present in 80 countries.

“Domestically despite the (pandemic) surge last year, year to date, we are still growing at double-digit levels,” he said. “We’re very optimistic for, at least for the food sector, and as you’ve seen in terms of personal care and even on pharmaceutical products we’re seeing more stability and slight rebound given that consumers feel a little bit more confident.”

Banzon noted that consumers are shopping less often during the pandemic but are buying more per shopping trip. He said with the vaccination rollout, there would be resurgence in economic activities.

“Consumers are actually waiting to go out and live their lives as normally as possible,” he said. “All these—people going out, opening business—will just snowball into a resurgence of overall consumption.”

Tomohiro Ando, executive director of Japan External Trade Organization Manila, is also bullish on the sector’s recovery this year.

Asked about the prospects in the motorcycle industry, Ando said sales and production of motorcycles in the Philippines have been increasing since 2017, which presents a big business opportunity for the country.

“There’s really a market for motorcycles in the Philippines,” he said.

Lopez said the local motorcycle production industry has seen the leading growth in the transportation and mobility sector, growing 23 percent year-on-year as of January 2021.

“I think this is really a fast-growing sector for transportation and mobility,” he said.

The motorcycle market in the Philippines is the fifth largest in the world. Sales of motorcycles grew by eight percent before the pandemic, the Board of Investments said. (KOC)