DTI-EMB highlights need to ensure public safety, top quality of local food products
posted 25 August 2015

The Department of Trade and Industry?s Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) stressed the importance of maintaining the quality and safety of food products exported by Philippine companies during the seventh information session for the year held recently under EMB?s Philippine Export Competitiveness Program (PECP).

The PECP seeks to help local exporters develop their productivity, improve the quality of their products, and teach them to be innovative and competitive in their field of business.

Featured speakers during the session on July 30, 2015, were Maria Teresa C. Cerbolles of the Center for Food Regulation and Research under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Joanchris Preau, general manager of Bureau Veritas, a French company considered to be a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services, including international trade.

Cerbolles discussed FDA regulations on food exports with special focus on license to operate and certificate of product registration.

She also explained the vital changes the FDA is making in supervising the safe manufacture and sale of locally made food products.

She said that before a local company can market and export food products, it needs to apply for licenses and register its products with the FDA.

“It is necessary to do so to ensure public safety and the good reputation of the company and the Philippines in the field of international trade,” she said.

For his part, DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada said that globalization and free trade regimes have opened up both vast opportunities as well as challenges for Philippine food exports.

“It’s no longer about protective tariffs, it?s more about meeting quality standards and compliance with market requirements,” Perlada emphasized in a recent interview.

“That is why the EMB is strongly advocating for the establishment of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) which is among the major strategies in the Philippine Export Development Plan,” he added.

He also said that food exports remain a bright spot in Philippine trade with the rest of the world.

“While the prolonged and continuing drought has weighed down on supply of materials and the sector’s exports for the first six months of 2015, which may well spell a flat growth or even a decline for the entire year, it is nevertheless expected that the sector will continue on a growth trajectory over the long haul,” he pointed out.

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the Philippines? total food exports in 2014 reached $4.178 billion, up 5.91 percent from the $3.945 billion exported in 2013. Of these, processed food accounted for $1.756 billion, or 42.04 percent of total food exports, up 11.49 percent from the $1.575 billion reported in 2013. Total beverage exports were recorded at $40.824 billion last year, 312.87 percent more than the $9.9 million exported in 2013. Fresh food exports amounted to $1.382 billion in 2014, 15.32 percent more than the 2013 exports of $1.209 billion in 2013. Only marine and aquaculture products showed a downtrend, from 2013?s $1.15 billion to last year?s $988.683 million or a change of 14.03 percent.

Cerbolles said the seminar series was timely as the FDA was instituting changes in its supervision of food products marketed for both the domestic and international markets. The changes included raising its licensing and registration fees, and extending the validity of food licenses and registration from one year to three years.

She reminded the participants that aside from the need to comply with domestic regulations on food manufacturing, current exporters and would-be exporters of food products must also be aware of, and comply with, the specific country regulations governing the companies importing their products.

Meanwhile, Preau discussed Bureau Veritas’ experience in supervising international products that enter and leave the French market. She specifically cited the market regulations governing subjected products traded with select countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia) and Africa (Ghana).

Other topics discussed during the information session included a General Guide to EMB Services, an Overview of Philippine Export Procedures, and Doing Business with the European Union using the General Scheme of Preferences Plus.

Aside from exporters and would-be exporters, the PECP aims to reach freight forwarders, customs brokers and other export stakeholders as well as local government officials, business groups and members of the academe. A major focus of the information sessions are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the majority of domestic businesses operating in the country.

The PECP holds information sessions in both the DTI International Bldg. along Gil Puyat Ave. in Makati City and in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces at the request of specific companies, government agencies including DTI regional and provincial offices, local government units, and business groups and federations. Those conducted in the DTI offices in Makati are held mostly on the last Thursday of the month.

The latest information session was an offshoot of the Export Development Council?s (EDC) Networking Committee on Trade Policies and Procedure Simplification (NCTPPS) Technical Working Group’s (TWG) discussion on non-tariff measures (NTMs) and work plan. EMB co-chairs the TWG with the Philippine Exporters’ Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT).