The Philippine Star

August 22, 2021 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking to have the private sector-led artificial intelligence (AI) research center in place within the year.

“Before the end of the year, we hope to incorporate a private sector-led AI research (center),” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ Fireside Chat recently.

The establishment of a research center for AI in the country is part of the roadmap which seeks to position the country as an AI center of excellence in the region.

Through the AI center, the government and different industries can avail of consultancy services, as well as AI products.

“Although it is government-initiated, we are rallying the big companies, the private sector because we believe the private sector should lead so that operation (of the AI center) can become sustainable even if we are no longer here, and more nimble and more dynamic moving forward,” Lopez said.

He said AI is being pushed as it is seen as a future source of foreign exchange revenues for the country, similar to the contributions of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and overseas Filipino worker remittances.

Last year, the country’s information technology – BPO industry generated $26.7 billion worth of revenues and directly employed 1.32 million workers.

Money sent home by Filipinos working abroad, meanwhile, reached $33.2 billion last year.

Lopez said the Philippines has potential for AI given its available talent pool and graduates of science and technology, engineering and mathematics.

He said AI and digitalization of processes to make business registration easier are among the legacies he would want to leave behind.

In addition, he also wants support for micro, small and medium enterprises’ development and economic reforms to make the country more attractive for foreign investments to be part of his legacies.

As the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act which reduces the corporate income tax rate and introduced changes to the incentives system, has been approved into law, he said the DTI is pushing for the passage of other economic reforms such as amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Public Service Act, and Foreign Investments Act.

“These are vital economic reforms that should encourage more foreign investors into the country and reduce the sort of roadblocks that discourage higher foreign equity investment,” he said.


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