Ripe with opportunities, the Philippines generated sales totaling USD10.36M from the recently concluded 20th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) held at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICEC) in Nanning, Guangxi Province, China last September 16-19, 2023. 

Several of the 15 participating SMEs also successfully booked orders on top of their onsite retail performance. The fresh durian proved to be the most lucrative among the product offerings from the Philippine merchants, which comprised more than half of     the sales total at USD5.4M, followed by natural-based drink options (calamansi and energy drinks) and banana chips, contributing more than USD1.0M each. 

The Philippine participation is part of the country’s long-standing relations with top export trading partner China, whose import activities are valued to reach more than US$5.0 trillion in the next five years. The Philippines joined 42 other countries that made up the 1,953 exhibitors and companies present at the 20th CAEXPO this year. Of the total, 644 came from the ASEAN while non-ASEAN countries reached 738. 

In April of 2023, the Philippines successfully delivered its first shipment of fresh durian to China, signaling the activation of the agreement for direct market access between the countries during the state visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in January 2023. The top sales performance at CAEXPO 2023 of durian exhibitors from both retail and wholesale buyers reinforces the growing demand for the local durian variety in the global market. The Puyat variety from Davao boasts of a richer flavor profile than regional counterparts with its creaminess on top of its expected sweetness.  

The 15 Philippine exhibitors that contributed to the USD10.36M country sales are, for food: Brics Ventures, Dataj Aquafarm Inc., Enature Energy Drinks Philippines Inc., Eng Seng Food Products, Lighthouse Cooperative, OneAsia Trader, Raspina Tropical Fruits Inc., Soyuz Foods International Inc., and 22 Propack Asia Corporation; for non-food:  BDO Unibank Inc., Bebebalm, Inc., Jegen S.W.E. Enterprises, Kitsilver, Santa Praxedes Sarakat Women Weavers Association, and R&V Fly Global Travel and Tours.

During the opening ceremony of the Philippine National Pavilion, which featured City of Charm Tuguegarao City and the Philippine Export Zone Authority, CITEM Executive Director Edward Fereira emphasized, “Partnerships are key. The stronger we make these relationships work, the better our prospects for enhanced export trade development.”  

He acknowledged that business continuity with China bolsters not just the growth and success of the Philippine export industry, it also signifies the commitment to sustain overall goodwill between the two countries, as well as bridging more strategic partnerships within Asia and other regions. 

Aside from the successful showcase of local exhibitors and networking activities with fellow exhibitors and buyers, the four-day exposition also created a comprehensive learning experience. Various engagements with top officials and trade authorities of participating countries were conducted, with the Philippines leading its own investment forum activities with the country’s head of delegation and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo. With the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) as organizing lead, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and representatives from partner agencies including City of Charm (COC) Tuguegarao City discussed a portfolio of business and direct investment opportunities for the international market. 

During the PH Investment Forum, held on September 16, 2023 and attended by over 80 participants, presented in detail were the country’s investment offerings, particularly in the fields of renewable energy, IT, and agri-agro industry in the COC. Meanwhile, PEZA Director General Tereso Panga focused on the country’s thrust in addressing the challenges of climate change, amidst embracing digital technology to further economic growth and simultaneously bring about safer and sustainable business environments. The delegation also partook in meetings for potential global business ventures in the infra and tech sector, as well as other activities toward more regional investment cooperation during the CAEXPO. 

The next CAEXPO, the 21st edition, is slated on September 23-26, 2024. Meanwhile, this year’s Philippine participation also serves part of its preparation as the Country of Honor at the CAEXPO in 2025. ♦

Date of release: 07 November 2023