DTI chief bares suggestions to advance Asean community effort amid shift to Industry 4.0


Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual called on the entire Asean community to strengthen intellectual capital and innovation to explore new “comparative advantages” in the world market amid the shift to Industry 4.0.

“In transitioning to Industry 4.0, Asean must therefore shift from manufacturing to ‘mindfacturing.’ From strengthening traditional factors or production, we need to galvanize intellectual capital and innovation to maintain and explore new comparative advantages in the world market,” Pascual said in his speech at the Asean Business and Investment Summit held in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday.

Pascual emphasized that mindfacturing goes beyond the traditional boundaries of manufacturing, underscoring the “fusion” of human expertise and cutting-edge technologies and empowering human intelligence to come up with solutions and integrate technology seamlessly.

Pascual cited a 2020 study by Kearney and EDBI of Singapore, which predicted that artificial intelligence (AI) alone could “supercharge” Asean’s economy by 2030, potentially boosting regional gross domestic product (GDP) by 10 to 18 percent or nearly $1 trillion in additional economic activity.

However, the trade chief said these benefits “are not a given.”

“While the promise of technological advancement is immense, it comes with a caveat: it can either bridge the developmental gap or widen it,” Pascual said, adding that Asean member states must ensure that the march toward technological progress is “equitable and inclusive” and that no nation within the region is left behind amid the “shadows of progress.”

Moving forward, Pascual said the Asean community needs to advance its “regional efforts” in six areas.

One of the recommendations of the Philippines’ trade chief is to “formulate and adopt harmonized governance frameworks for technology adoption.”

He also underscored the need to “stimulate technology adoption for smart agriculture and smart manufacturing through responsive programs and incentives.”

Moreover, the Pascual emphasized that Asean should enhance access of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to digital technologies.

Pascual also highlighted that the Asean community should accelerate innovation that contributes to inclusion and environmental sustainability.

To advance the region’s efforts towards attaining a successful Industry 4.0 ecosystem, the trade chief also noted there is a need to foster cultural development, especially of digital content, sports, culture, and the arts.

He said the region should “roll out Asean’s digital-based trade facilitation initiatives.”

For the Philippines, Pascual shared to the Asean community that the country’s workforce development programs are “tailored” to meet the demands of the future, eliminating skill mismatches and building human capital.

Further, the he highlighted that the country is nurturing small businesses and start-ups to become digital transformation and innovation pioneers.

In terms of attracting investments, such could be done, “By aligning our industry development, trade, and investment policies, we’re creating a magnet for investments that can plug gaps in our supply and value chains.”

As the country embraces Industry 4.0, he shared that the Philippines is integrating new technologies to make the country’s industries competitive and hubs of innovation.