Pascual tags biotech's role in economic recovery

TRADE Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Monday underscored the role of biotechnology in helping solve the country's food security issues amid the growing population and climate change challenges.

Pascual was one of the key resource persons during the opening of the 18th National Biotechnology Week: "Responding to the Challenges, Business Opportunities in Biotechnology" held in Pasay City.

During his speech, he tagged science, technology, and innovation as keys to moving the Philippines toward an advanced, inclusive, and resilient future.

"Biotechnology's breakthrough products and technologies feature multi-faceted benefits. Aside from creating novel diagnostics, vaccines, and combatting debilitating and rare diseases, they can reduce our environmental footprint; feed the hungry; use less and cleaner energy; and make industrial manufacturing processes safer, cleaner, and more efficient," Pascual said.

The trade chief explained how biotechnology can be a vital tool in economic recovery and transformation. "Effectively harnessing biotech will increase our agricultural productivity, allow us to achieve food security, and modernize our industry and services sectors." he said.

"Biotech cuts across the priority industry clusters we have previously identified—from Industrial, Manufacturing and Transport, to Health and Life Sciences, to Modern Basic Needs and Resilient Economy. It will allow the Philippines to create, if not strengthen, our links in global value chains," Pascual added.

The TradeSsecretary also stressed that with biotech industry development, the government will be able to realize cross-cutting industry transformation and modernization in, among others, the fields of agriculture, food manufacturing, energy, medicine, pharmaceutical, biomaterials, and bioengineering.

Additionally, he mentioned that biotech companies can expect ease of doing business in the Philippines.

"The Board of Investments has listed biotech-enabled production, manufacturing, and service-type activities in the 2022 Strategic Investment Priority Plan. These firms may avail of tax incentives and perks under Republic Act 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act," said Pascual.

Meanwhile, biotech-enabled activities related to food security and R&D activities on modern biotech or its commercialization are considered Tier II and Tier III activities. "Meaning, these projects can enjoy a better set of incentives such as an income tax holiday of at least five years," he added.

Lastly, Pascual assured that the Department of Trade and Insutry will continue to provide unwavering support to the country's biotechnology and biotech-enabled industries. "You can rely on us in creating an enabling environment for these innovation-driven activities to thrive and become globally competitive," he said.

Also attending the event were government officials and representatives from Commission on Higher Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Education, Department of Health, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, and International Rice Research Institute.