Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Dubai (PTIC-Dubai) recently reported that their office is working closely with Dubai’s officials in streamlining entry process of food exports that aims to strengthen compliance and control of Philippine shipments entering the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We aim to increase our food exports to UAE as we aim to reduce the rate of rejected food shipments by our local exporters,” said PTIC-Dubai Commercial Attache Eric Elnar.

Nonconformance to UAE’s food quality and safety standards, health certificate requirements, and labeling requirements were among the contraventions discussed by Mr. Ahmed Khalifa, Senior Food Trade Hygiene Specialist of the Dubai Municipality Food Control Department in a meeting with Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes and PTIC-Dubai.

According to the Dubai Municipality, the government agency in charge of enforcement of food safety regulations at the borders of UAE, the Philippines has exported 132,800 tons of food to Dubai in 2016. Of the 29,010 food items randomly checked by the Dubai Municipality, 5,874 food items or around 20% were rejected due to non-conformity to UAE’s food quality and safety requirements. These include label contraventions, certificate contraventions, and laboratory sample results contraventions. It was also noted that among the food exporting countries, the Philippines ranked 19th in the number of contraventions encountered in 2016.

“Creating awareness among Philippine exporters about food standards, labelling requirements and health certificates, and other documentary requirements of the UAE will lessen the cases of rejection of shipments and occurrence of fines due to non-compliance with the food safety regulations of the Dubai government,” emphasized Commercial Attache Eric Elnar.

PTIC-Dubai further assured that the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will pursue concerted efforts to reduce rejection of Philippine food consignments to Dubai.

PTIC-Dubai works closely with DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) for campaigns and efforts on the dissemination of relevant and updated UAE laws affecting Philippine food export sector. It has also initiated coordination with the Dubai authorities on information regarding relevant Philippine food regulatory agencies and sample formats of health certificates to facilitate the Dubai government’s verification of certificates submitted by UAE food importers as supporting documents for Philippine shipments entering UAE.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Export Development Council (EDC) with EMB met with other regulatory agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture and Health, and took the lead in the formation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) that aims to coordinate action points and institutionalize reforms in handling compliance.

EMB and EDC will map the certificates for exports issued by the concerned government agencies and will conduct further discussions to harmonize and synchronize the issuance of certificates including redesigning forms according to the Gulf Cooperation Council templates.

Efforts to reduce rejected shipments to UAE is considered as a model initiative as the EDC aims to undertake the same for other major markets of Philippine food such as the European Union (EU), United States (US), and China.

In 2016, the Philippines exported to the UAE around US$124.04 million worth of foodstuffs.   Major food products imported from the Philippines are fresh bananas, canned pineapple, fresh/dried pineapple, bread and biscuits, mixed condiments and sauces, noodles and pasta, canned tuna and sausages.

Philippine Exporters are urged to visit DTI EMB’s website and office for any assistance that they will need to comply with the necessary documents required by UAE’s government.♦