Over 30 small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) from the Philippines, particularly from Palawan and Mindanao joined more than 200 exhibitors from 20 countries in the recent Sabah International Exposition (SIE) 2016 in Kota Kinabalu, one of the biggest expos in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). Among the Philippine products showcased were coco sugar and other coconut-based goods, textile, coffee, fruit concentrates, banana chips, honey, juice and handicrafts. Palawan being the cashew capital of the country, promoted cashew-based products such as oil, nuts, and chips. 

Philippine Foreign Trade Service ASEAN Lead and Commercial Counsellor for Singapore and Malaysia Glenn Peñaranda led the government’s delegation on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).  He, together with his colleagues from the DTI regional offices 4B, 9 to12 and the Department of Agriculture extended their support to the exhibitors and took advantage of the opportunity to re-connect and establish new business contacts.

“I am very proud of the Philippine SMEs in SIE as they are able show their competitiveness in a regional platform. We at the DTI continue to encourage the MSMEs to take advantage of trade opportunities in different markets and become part of the global value chain,” said Peñaranda. 

While the country has consistently taken part in SIE, most of the delegates for 2016 were first-time participants and are looking forward to exporting to the region.  They reported good sales prospects for their healthy, organic and processed food products.

Another highlight for the delegation was the Best International Booth award won by Zamboanga Peninsula. It displayed Abaca finer sheets, household décor items, tamarind candies and coconut handicrafts.

To reaffirm bilateral ties and explore opportunities for cooperation, Peñaranda also had meetings with key government and business leaders on the sidelines of the expo.  Peñaranda met with Sabah Economic Development Corporation, Department of Industrial Development and Research, and the Federation of Sabah Industries which all have expressed interest in enhanced collaboration and stronger trade ties between Sabah and the Philippines. Peñaranda underscored the country’s pursuit of its halal industry development and the potential for partnerships with Malaysia.  Joint tourism ventures in Palawan and direct ferry links between Palawan and Sabah are being eyed as well.

The country participation was organized by the Mindanao Development Authority which serves as the Philippine Coordination Office for BIMP-EAGA.