The Department of Finance (DOF) said the Philippines needs to catch up with developments in the digital space, starting with modernizing its physical infrastructure and adapt to the changing needs of the global economy.
According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the government also has to encourage people and industries to embrace the digital economy to prepare the country for the future now being shaped by technology companies like Alibaba.
“The Philippines has to catch up first like China. But first, we have to raise money and convince people, encourage new industries,” Dominguez said at the New Economy Workshop organized by the Alibaba Business School for visiting Philippine officials and representatives of the business sector in Hangzhou, China.
Brian Wong, the Alibaba Group vice president and head of globalization initiatives, said that like China, the Philippines can capitalize on the digital era by cultivating entrepreneurship in e-commerce and come out with regulations supportive of digital trade and electronic payments systems.
He said electronic payments in China were nonexistent in 1999 but has now expanded to 11 times the size of similar transactions in the US. In 2016 China recorded $790-billion electronic transactions against the United States’s $79 billion, data from a research report showed.
“That is the type of change that can happen in the country. In the Philippines with a hundred million plus population, has a massive market that can be developed. Like the secretary said, you can catch up and leapfrog,” Wong said.
The New Economy Workshop for Philippine officials is the first overseas training program organized by the Alibaba Business School. The program will be expanded to more countries in Southeast Asia.
Upon the invitation of Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma, Dominguez, along with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Maria Almasara Cyd Tuaño Amador, Bases Conversion and Development Authority President and CEO Vivencio B. Dizon and other government officials and representatives from the Philippine business sector attended the Alibaba’s three-day workshop designed to gain a wider understanding of an e-commerce ecosystem including the digital technologies that can be employed to improve the country’s nascent online payments system in pursuit of inclusive growth.