29 December 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

GROCERIES and organic fruits and vegetables have high export potentials for Philippine enterprises keen to export to Norway under the Philippines-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (PH-Efta FTA), says a Norwegian official.

Bjorn Jahnsen, Norway’s ambassador to the Philippines, said in a recent presentation in Makati on exporting to Efta countries that there is much room for further growth for Philippine goods exports to Norway. This is because the country’s exports to Norway in 2017 amounted to just $43 million (P2.3 billion), while the Efta nation’s total global imports for the same year had a value of $80.5 billion (almost P490 billion), Jahnsen said.

In 2017, the top 5 Norwegian merchandise imports from the Philippines included electrical machinery and other electronics; clothing and accessories; office and information-technology equipment; travel accessories, handbags and garments; and vegetables and fruits.

Jahnsen said export potentials for the Philippines are huge for these seven products: groceries, fruits and vegetables (including organic produce), flowers, clothing and footwear, furniture, chemical products, and ceramics and handicrafts. Groceries imports of Norway in 2015 totaled $19 billion.

NorgesGruppen, a Norwegian grocery wholesaling group, which also runs various retail outlets, dominated the industry with a 42.3-percent share of the total import value for the year. This was followed by Coop NKL (29.4 percent), the second-largest retail group in the country, and owned by numerous local cooperative associations; then Rema 1000 (24.4 percent), a multinational no-frills supermarket chain; and retail chain Bunnpris (3.9 percent).

Meanwhile, fruit and vegetable imports of Norway reached $1 billion in 2016. The country’s main importers,  Jahnsen said, are fruit and vegetable trading and distribution companies Interfrukt and Bama. Notably, he said, organic food imports have been on the rise.

The organic food sector in Norway had a market value of $300 million in 2016, up 25 percent from 2015. It had a 1.8-percent market share in 2016, but has ambitions to reach a 15-percent market share by 2020. Meanwhile, the other top imports had the following global market values in 2016: clothing, $3.9 billion; footwear, $520 million; and furniture, $2.2 billion.

For successful transactions with Norwegian importers, Jahnsen said suppliers must be made aware of their main requirements, which are quality, health and safety, traceability and reliability in terms of contracts and deadlines. It is also important for Norwegian companies that their trade partners observe responsible business conduct as espoused in international standards such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the UN Global Compact.

Jahnsen said suppliers wishing to find out more about Norway can look up www.norwayexports.no, www.messe.no/en/ (trade fairs and exhibitions in Norway), www.brreg.no/, and www.brreg.no/home/ (information on Norwegian companies) Under the newly forged Philippine-Efta FTA, Filipino companies can export to Norway and other Efta countries under more liberal rules of origin requirements. The Philippines’s trade accord with the Efta states, comprised of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, entered into force on June 1.