"Inpiraitonal Message of Former President Fidel Valdez Ramos 

Chairman, Ramos Peace and Development Foundation

The Philippine Exporters Confederation (PHILEXPORT)

20th Anniversary Celebration, World Trade Center Manila

Sen. Puyat Ave., corner Pres. Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City

1855H 30 October 2012


Let me add my own welcome to those already expressed here by President Benigno S. Aquino III for all participants and guests.

It is heartwarming to be with leaders of the export industry led by your President, Jun Ortiz-Luis, on the celebration of the 20th anniversary of PHILEXPORT. We can now recall together the good old days when export development was one of the lynchpins of our strategic roadmap we called "Philippines 2000!!!"

The venue is most appropriate, the World Trade Center Manila. The present breed of exports may not realize it, but the World Trade Center stands on land that in 1992, as President, I donated to PHILEXPORT within the Manila Bay reclamation area. In fact, the whole International Trade Complex was turned over to PHILEXPORT during my time.

It may have been intentional, not providential, that the founding of PHILEXPORT happened in the same year that I started serving my six-year Presidency. From the outset, I shared the dreams of Jun Ortiz that making the Philippines a competitive exporting nation, would be our ticket out of poverty.

And I threw all the support may office could command, from backing up legislative reforms the exporters sought – to dismantling the monopoly on telecommunications that has long prevented its modernization.

During 1992-1998, most of the socio-economic policy reforms that we set in place were either passed by Congress or promulgated by the Chief Executive.

The fundamental reforms to open up the Philippine economy to the challenges of globalization were put in place during our time. The first of those was our accession to the World Trade Organization, the successor to the GATT.

It was quickly followed with the signing into law of the Export Development Act of 1994. Without the need for legislation, I opened up the telecommunications industry to competition. We now know that competitiveness leads to rapid modernization and sustained growth.

In quick succession, Congress enacted the Bank Liberalization Law, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Mining Act, and the E-Commerce Law. On the administrative front, we started modernizing customs administration and other government functions by computerizing them.

And, we organized two Export Congresses during my term right here at the Philippine International Convention Center. We held the first one soon after the Export Development Act was signed into law, and another close to the end of my term. I think you need to call for another Export Congress to remind Government that you the exporters are still around – because not one such international Export Congress has been convened since then.

Export growth throughout my term broke previous records at consistent double-digit levels each year so that by 1997, it had grown from less than $10 billion in 1992 to almost $40 billion in 1997.

If exports can grow by double-digit rates a year, the rest of the economy could be coaxed into growing faster, and we could indeed reach tiger economy status in a decade or less. The momentum continued until the global trade slump of 2001.

The momentum of export growth during my time was fuelled by equally strong investments especially in the electronics and automotive industries. In this new century, export growth and retreat followed a roller-coaster ride, a boom and bust pattern.

Your sector's checkered record since 2001 may have been mainly dictated by the rise and fall of global demand for Philippine goods. But it is equally true that foreign direct investments also took a dive after my years in office and started kicking up only last year. Investments are the drivers of economic growth. Where and when there is little, an economy stagnates.

Sometimes, I think that to sustain economic growth and development, the psychological factor, although hard to measure, is equally important. The Ramos administration adopted a "Can d" attitude with the battlecry Kaya natin 'to! And grow the economy we did at an average of 5% a year and exports at 16%. That kind of growth rate, sustained over time, is yet to be duplicated.

Your economic managers are in the right track in jumpstarting the drawing up of a comprehensive industrialization plan involving all major industries. Finish that plan and execute it at the plant level, at the industry cluster level, at the national and global levels. Integrate your industries following the value chain.

Kaya ba natin ito???

Thank you and Mabuhay – Best wishes!!!

S5 Box