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The Foreign Trade Service Officers successfully conducted their regional planning consecutively held from 03-13 December 2018 to discuss and review strategies in promoting Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) goes Global program for overseas Filipinos, Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP), and the country’s Investment Priorities Plan to improve the Philippines’ trade relations and increase investments for the year 2019 onward, among others.

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Date of Release: December 2018

Geneva, Switzerland – Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) – Geneva tested the cadmium level of Philippine cacao beans and the results are encouraging! 
 
“Davao-sourced fermented cacao beans have low cadmium level that is well within the acceptable values, providing a big opportunity for Filipino cacao farmers,” said Michiel Hendriksz, Executive Director of FarmStrong Foundation. 
 
The test was made in light of the European Union’s (EU) new limits on the cadmium levels in cocoa products by 1 January 2019 (EU No 488/2014) that could pose a serious threat to many smallholder cacao farmers, and present a challenge to chocolate producers. 
 
“While Switzerland is not part of the EU, it adopts the EU General Food Law and exports majority of its chocolate production to the EU. Swiss consumers also have the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide,” according to Mr Jean-Benoit Charrin, Director of Operations of FarmStrong Foundation. 
 
Cadmium is a heavy metal found both through natural occurrence and from industrial and agricultural resources. The maximum levels for cadmium in food have existed in EU legislation since 2001. Thus, to reduce exposure levels to the metal in certain food groups where exposure is highest or where the consumer groups were most vulnerable, new recommendations for maximum exposure levels in a range of infant products and cocoa-based products were released. Three maximum levels have been set for chocolate, where the strictest maximum levels apply to chocolate varieties most eaten by children, while a maximum level is also set for cocoa powder destined for direct consumption.
   
From 1 January 2019:
 
• Milk chocolate with below 30% total dry cocoa solids contain no more than 0.10 mg/kg wet weight of cadmium
 
• Chocolate with over 30% cocoa and below 50% must have no more than 0.30 mg/kg of cadmium
 
• Chocolate with more than 50% will have a threshold of 0.80 mg/kg
 
• Cocoa powder sold to the final consumer typically as drinking will have a limit of 0.60mg/ kg
 
Source: (EU) No 488/2014
 
Cacao beans from Latin America are particularly affected. Previous research has indicated higher levels of lead and cadmium in cacao beans in Latin America compared to beans from West Africa. Cacao beans from West Africa, however, are considered “bulk beans” and lack the flavour Swiss chocolatiers are looking for.
 
The low cadmium level of Philippine cacao beans brings opportunities for Philippine cacao farmers and producers, particularly in premium products (specialty, fine flavour and certified chocolate) as Swiss chocolate manufacturers look for new sources of cacao beans to protect its international reputation for high quality with many famous international brands.
 
The Department of Trade and Industry, through the various foreign trade posts, supports Philippine cacao farmers in demonstrating significant progress in the Philippine cacao sectors by aiming at niche markets for high quality and speciality cocoa and chocolate products. Government agencies and farmers/producers need to work hand-in-hand to be able to supply high quality Criollo/Trinitario cacao beans with good traceability and superior quality.
 
This positive development is also timely in light of the DTI’s thrust to upgrade the Philippine cacao industry in the global value chain. The cadmium level could also feed in the discussion during the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia-Pacific Cacao Congress scheduled from September 15 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center.
 
PTIC-Geneva works with Swiss cacao distributors, buyers and sourcing organisations, as well cocoa sustainability specialists. FarmStrong Foundation (http://farmstrong-foundation.org/) is a Swiss public interest organisation that promotes resilient, structured, rural economic development through integrated sustainable agricultural production systems in cocoa growing communities. The cadmium test was done by Intertek Group plc (http://www.intertek.com/), a multinational inspection, product testing and certification company headquartered in the UK with testing facilities in 100 countries including Switzerland and the Philippines. (END)
 
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To request for a copy of the cadmium test, please write to PTIC-Geneva (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
 
Written by: TSO Magnolia Uy, PTIC-Geneva.
 
Date of release: 08 June 2018
 

By Magnolia Uy / Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the WTO, Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Geneva

ACCESSING relevant information on product requirements in export markets can be a huge challenge, especially for micro-, small- and  medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Thus, a new Web-based alert system designed to help government agencies and MSMEs to receive the latest information on regulatory requirements in various markets was tackled during “Usapang Exports” last December. More than 50 Philippine exporters participated in the virtual training delivered through video-conference that was  coorganized by the Philippine Investment Center-Geneva and the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), in coordination with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The system, known as ePing, allows access to WTO members’ notifications of TBT and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. It also facilitates dialogue among the public and private sectors in addressing potential trade problems at an early stage. Users of ePing will be able to easily keep up to date with notifications affecting foreign markets and products of particular interest to them.

The publicly accessible online tool is available at www.epingalert.orgThrough a simple registration page, users can personalize the alerts regarding SPS and TBT notifications covering specific products or markets of interest to them. In addition, it offers an Enquiry Point Management Tool to facilitate domestic, as well as international, information sharing and discussion. The system helps users track, consult and comment on measures that are being developed and/or adapt as necessary to changing regulatory conditions.

Each year, the WTO receives more than 3,500 TBT and SPS notifications proposing new measures that may affect international trade. Consequently, the need to comply with different foreign technical regulations and standards involves significant costs for producers and exporters. By improving access to this information, ePing will help avoid disruptions caused by these measures.

With the high interest received from the participants, the ePing alert system will become part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s “Doing Business in Free Trade Agreement” Programme implemented by the Export Manufacturing Bureau.

Original publication: http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/workshop-on-web-based-global-trade-alert-system-aimed-to-equip-msmes/

by Magnolia M. Uy / Commercial Attaché Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the World Trade Organization, Philippine Trade and Investment Center Geneva

Published in Business Mirror

25 July 2017

PHILIPPINE micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that want to expand their market overseas—especially in highly developed markets, such as Switzerland, the European Union (EU) and the US but are uncertain on how to proceed—can now tap the expertise and experience of international trade lawyers for free.

Sidley Austin Llp., an international law firm, launched the Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program to help poor, rural and disadvantaged communities by providing free legal support to MSMEs and market-focused non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Through technical guidance and hand-holding, MSMEs can benefit from, among others, legal-trade advice on market-access requirements, as well as better understanding intellectual property rights and patents for innovative ideas.

For many MSMEs around the world, legal barriers are among the key hindrances to trade. However, since the program’s introduction in 2012, over 120 MSMEs from more than 30 countries have benefitted. These include an Indonesian chocolate producer overcoming challenges in the EU market because its formula has to meet EU’s minimum cocoa requirement; shea producers unable to sell products containing shea to Indian buyers because of regulatory restrictions; and an African clean-cook stove enterprise entangled in an intellectual property dispute with a Chinese company.

Further, the program works toward enabling more MSMEs in developing countries to participate in e-commerce by helping them address constraints. E-commerce has always been touted as a key enabler for MSMEs worldwide to participate in global trade. However, it entails legal requirements in order to be realized. For instance, it is essential to have an effective privacy policy that protects producers and buyers during the online transaction; to carry out online business transactions on the basis of enforceable and internationally recognized buyer-seller contracts; and as intellectual property must be protected, products must also comply with market-access requirements.

The Department of Trade and Industry, through The Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) in Geneva, can facilitate the introduction and engagement of eligible Philippine MSMEs with the proponent. Applications for pro bono support are reviewed on a case-by-case basis through the following criteria:

  • Located in or have primary operations in a developing country in Africa, Asia, Central and South America or the Caribbean;
  • Committed to delivering a positive social impact;
  • Have established a presence in the local market (i.e., beyond start-up);
  • Agree to secure local counsel; and
  • Are unable to afford or otherwise access international legal services.

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For more information, you can get in touch with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Geneva, Switzerland, at +41-22-9097900/ 7906/7915/7917 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. PTIC Geneva is led by our commercial attaches, TSO Maggie Uy and TSO Ella Burgos, and is located at the Philippine Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization at Rue de Lausanne 80, 1902 Geneva.

THE “Slow Food” movement in Switzerland has progressed into high gear recently with books and films raising awareness of the dangers of a fast-food diet for humans and the planet. Two leading retailers, Migros and Coop, played a key role in the Slow Food movement since the early 1990s when they first placed organic products on their shelves. It was a decision that proved to be a breakthrough for chemical-free foods, putting them for the first time on the plates of the average Swiss family.

Slow Food began in Italy in 1986 with the foundation of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish steps in Rome. The Slow Food organization spawned by the movement has expanded and now has over 100,000 members with chapters in over 132 countries.

According to the international Slow Food organization, everyone has “the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture. We believe the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work”.

The Philippines can take advantage of the Slow Food Trend in the following aspects:

  1. Non-GMO Foods/Organic food and fair trade certifications—About 80 percent of the world’s chocolate is organic by default. Most farmers can’t afford chemical applications, and it’s not efficient for the crop.
  2. Dehydrated Foods—Dehydrated foods make for convenient, healthier, less sugary snacking and help preserve foods and concentrate their flavors. Philippine products: dried fruits and nuts, seaweed;
  3. Gluten-Free Flours—Grain-free cooking and baking is trending and very popular in Paleo circles, so the demand for these flours is on the rise. Philippine products: mango flour, coconut flour;
  4. Single origin food—Single-origin food is food products grown within a single-known geographic origin. Sometimes, this is a single farm, or a specific collection of crops from a single country, such as cacao, coffee and tea; and
  5. Flavors from Asia—The old days of bland meat and potatoes are gone, as Swiss demographics and palates are shifting, and taste buds are exploring these two exotic continents: Asia and Africa. The Swiss are becoming more open to hotter spices, new textures and taste, and a greater variety of ethnic food.

For more information, you can get in touch with the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Geneva, Switzerland, at +41.22.9097900 / 7906/7915/7917 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.PTIC Geneva is led by our commercial attaches, TSO Maggie Uy and TSO Ella Burgos, and is located at the Philippine Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization at Rue de Lausanne 80, 1902 Geneva.

Original publication: http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/slow-food-presents-opportunities-for-phl-food-exporters/

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