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Buy Pinoy to compete in ASEAN 2015 – Yao

From rags-to-riches businessman Alfredo M. Yao has vowed to pursue with more vigor a nationalistic advocacy “Buy Pinoy” under his leadership as new president of the country’s largest business organization, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), stressing that a strong ground support for domestic industries is the only way for the Philippines to compete in the ASEAN economic integration by 2015.

Stressing the Philippines is not ready for the Asean Economic Community two years from now, Yao has appealed to the conscience of Filipinos to buy Philippine-made products to help local producers become more viable and competitive with the rest of other Asean products.

YAO

YAO

“I don’t think we are competitive when the ASEAN economic integration happens in 2015, but we as stockholders can do something drastic through the ‘Buy Pinoy’ movement because we cannot stop them (other ASEAN countries) from putting their products here,” said Yao.

Yao, whose rags-to-riches story has inspired many, has already laid out this advocacy during his first PCCI Board meeting as president. PCCI businessmen are enjoined to source all their inputs locally.

PCCI members are located all over the country and most if not all of them are micro and small and medium enterprises.

“What I told them the other day is to source everything locally and do a little sacrifice,” said Yao, a college dropout who used to sleep on the Blumintritt sidewalks in Sta. Cruz, Manila, has now business interests in banking, airline, beverage, pharmaceuticals, hotels and resorts, among others.

“Buying local products could be a little expensive and the quality may not be comparable with imports, so we just have to sacrifice a little,” said Yao.

Yao explained that by buying locally-made products, Filipinos can help create more manufacturers, improve their efficiency and with higher sales this will redound to more efficient production and more jobs.

He said that “Buy Pinoy” does not only apply to consumer goods, but to anything indigenous like tourism as he exhorts Filipinos to visit the other parts of the country first before going abroad.

“We have to love our own first. Our Boracay is a lot better than Bali, ” he said adding the need to give Filipino enterprises a chance to grow and compete in the international arena.

keepcalm“I may sound very nationalistic and might be alone, but I hope not,” said Yao, who vowed to pursue this advocacy now with more vigor.

Yao said the impact of his advocacy may not be that immediate but said there will definitely be some improvements starting next year.

Yao has already informed President Aquino of his “Buy Pinoy” campaign which he said the president expressed strong support although Yao understands that the government cannot mandate a “Buy Pinoy” campaign officially since this would be against the international treaties that the Philippines has entered into.

Despite the dire situation of the domestic industries, Yao said there are a few that can compete in the international market.

For instance, the domestic beverage industry has a very strong local base.

His Zesto ready to drink (RTD) juices have a dominant position locally while his cola brand RC is second to Coke.

He said that RTDs are high volume, but low margin product and is difficult to import making Zesto and other local beverage firms safe from the influx of foreign brands.

Yao also believes the Philippines will continue to be the world’s BPO center. He also believes that BPO companies cannot just pack up easily and go to other countries.

“The OFW sector is an export in the real sense of the word,” he said.

Electronics, despite being low value, will continue to be a big dollar earner for the Philippines and provides employment opportunities for Filipinos, he said.

There are also some traditional exports in the agriculture sector like coconuts.

The manufacturing sector has been on a growth path. Garment manufacturing is also coming back especially after the flooding of Thailand and its uncertain political situation, he noted.

The Philippines has always been the first choice of foreign firms, especially the Japanese, that are relocating their Philippines, he said.

“If other countries are confident in us, why not us Filipinos? So, I am knocking on your conscience,” he asked.