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The Philippines and India recently celebrated their 70 years of diplomatic relations. To mark this significant event, Republic of India President Ram Nath Kovind traveled to the Philippines for a state visit, the first time in seven years that an Indian leader has visited the country. Part of President Kovind’s agenda was to meet with the business community in the Philippines and the ASEAN. He was able to do so through the Philippine-Indian Business Conclave and the 4th ASEAN-India Business Summit, hosted by the ASEAN-Business Advisory Council (BAC) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
President Kovind and I first met in New Delhi last year, during President Duterte’s state visit to India, during which I had the privilege of joining the official business delegation. I had the honor of receiving from President Kovind the Padma Shri Award, the fourth highest civilian award from the Republic of India. I am proudly its sole awardee from the Philippines, and for that I’m grateful and honored.
The recognition has inspired me to push harder for the advocacies of Go Negosyo, especially in its mission to empower micro and small entrepreneurs in the Philippines and across the ASEAN. I also believe that with my experience as a presidential adviser for entrepreneurship to two presidents, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and now President Duterte, I carry a great responsibility of designing and executing a development model that pursues inclusive growth through public and private sector participation.
This development vision bears semblance to what President Kovind had mentioned during his address at the business summit. President Kovind cited the works of Go Negosyo in spearheading programs that strengthen the entrepreneurship community. This recognition from a highly respected leader confirms that we are on the right path of helping our micro and small entrepreneurs.
At the event, the FICCI — led by its president Rex Daryanani — also conferred an excellence award to a number of Filipino government and non-government leaders. I, along with Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar, Senators Koko Pimentel and Migz Zubiri, and Sec. Ramon Lopez, among others, were recognized.
I also had the opportunity to meet Filipino children who were the beneficiaries of the Philippines-India pediatric liver transplant program in Makati Shangri-La. India’s liver transplant services are among the best and most affordable in the region. Since 2017, around 35 babies from the Philippines have had the life-saving medical procedure done in India.
I remember when we were in India, I had the chance to visit one of its hospitals, the Max Healthcare Institute. I saw firsthand its excellent treatment facilities, something the Philippines is still struggling to execute given the high cost of specialized medical procedures, equipment, and medicine.
This is one way I see India further helping the region and the Philippines — by launching projects that lead to better healthcare practices. The Philippines has much to benefit from strengthening collaborations with India.
Another sector where the Philippines and India can enhance their ties is in agriculture. Many micro and small entrepreneurs in both countries belong in this sector. The Philippines has already benefited from Indian agribusiness investors with the likes of Prasad Seeds Philippines Inc., an Indian corn seed processing company that has a facility in Central Luzon.
Tourism is also big in India, as well as in the Philippines. It is evident through the development of huge and accessible airports, and tourism establishments found in both countries.
The last and the most important area that can spur trade for both the Philippines and India is digitalization. Digitalization I believe is the game-changer in every nation. We are already doing a good job in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and can do even more given the right development strategies.
India and the Philippines are two countries with great potential, and the real challenge now is how policymakers and the private sector in each country can work hand-in-hand with their counterparts in the global scene. Prosperity for all — with no man left behind – is the inspiring and empowering vision that drives us all, and may we never forget that very mission.
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Next year, we will launch the Women 2020, a summit that aims to gather the biggest number of female personalities across the ASEAN region to provide an avenue for women to collaborate and amplify calls for empowerment. Different plenary sessions will cover various topics such as women experience in entrepreneurship, leadership and governance, and promotion of different advocacies, among others. Women 2020 will be done in collaboration with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council PH, Go Negosyo and the Singapore Management University.