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Overview

The potential of the digital economy in the Philippines over the next ten years represents a significant growth and socioeconomic development opportunity for the country. The gross merchandise value of the digital economy was estimated at AUD9.8bn (USD7.5bn) in 2020,1 but this figure is expected to grow in the coming years as the Philippines shifts to digital. Though policymakers had earlier recognized the importance of e-commerce and digital trade to the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic both accelerated and highlighted the need for digital transformation to maintain services and keep the country competitive with regional peers, while also underscoring that marginalised groups such as women and people with disabilities could fall further behind if digital inclusion were not made a priority item. The digitalisation of a number of key industries—such as finance, agriculture, and healthcare—is expected to result not only in more innovative and responsive goods and services for consumers, but also increased efficiency and productivity. In addition, areas such as digital finance and telemedicine will help bring products to consumers who previously may not have had any access, thereby contributing to policy priorities like financial inclusion in addition to overall socioeconomic development. The government has also begun exploring emerging technology such as AI to help spur greater private sector adoption.

Though there are important challenges to fully realizing the potential of the digital economy—chief among them the lack of quality Internet access and connectivity infrastructure—there is still significant room to increase and accelerate digital trade through leveraging international standards. The adoption of international standards can help enable interoperability and interconnectivity between businesses and governments to facilitate cross-border trade; standards also facilitate market access and participation, ensure competition, reduce compliance costs, and boost productivity, aligning with Philippine government objectives to increase the country’s competitiveness and encouraging economic growth.

This report estimates that by 2030, digital trade in the Philippines could increase by 405% to reach AUD53.21bn. In this context—particularly noting the impacts and challenges of COVID-19—this report examines the ways in which digital trade is taking shape in the Philippines, and the ways in which international standards can be leveraged to maximise its growth potential and ensure such growth is inclusive.

In order to scale this potential growth, this report will:

  • Examine digital trade and break down its components;
  • Estimate the economic value of the Philippines’ digital trade;
  • Identify priority areas;
  • Identify key international standards for each prioritised area to focus on; and
  • Map out a suggested way forward in order to accelerate digital trade growth.

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