PH, Malaysia urge business to look into new opportunities and technologies


The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought so much uncertainties not only to Philippine economy but the world.  Suddenly, business operations are paralyzed, companies are forced to close, movement of people is limited and public transportation prohibited.


What has this experience of going through the crisis taught us?  Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the pandemic is making people adapt to the new normal by being innovative and technology driven.  It also testing the country’s economic aspirations.


At a webinar episode on Post Pandemic: Digitalizing the BCP for Manufacturing, Philippines and Malaysia shared best practices in handling the crisis while drawing post COVID measures for the manufacturing industry.  Aldaba said right now some industries are moving towards manufacturing new products such surgical masks, testing kits, ventilators and medical-grade gowns, to address the local demand.  At present, the Philippines has no capacity to produce these kinds of medical products.


Aldaba said government plans to infuse more resources to support the development and jumpstart of these industries.  She also called on the textile and garment industry to support and contribute to this effort.


Similarly, Malaysia has difficulty sourcing raw materials for their personal protective equipment (PPEs) hence its government has approved a financial package for companies to identify raw materials and manufacture these products so in the future Malaysia will no longer be dependent on imports.


Muhammed Ali Bin Hajaj Mydin, CEO of Penang Skills Development Center of Malaysia said that the immediate challenge will be the competitiveness of this industry. However, he added that the Malaysian government will create a policy to ensure its sustainability in the future.


Food manufacturers are also adjusting to the new norm. Mydin said that supply chain is becoming more efficient through technology.  Malaysian MSMEs are empowered to use technology to better improve their efficiency and productivity to enable expansion.


On logistics, while the Philippines had several issues in the movement of goods partly because of the confusion on policies between the national and local government units (LGUs), Malaysia did not encounter problems in the flow of goods and supply chain was not disrupted. Mydin said strong public and private partnership was a key. Malaysian government has engaged the private sector (business chambers, manufacturing, associations) in the consultations and discussions on how to move forward.