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09 May 2018

In Photo: Ceferino S. Rodolfo (left), Department of Trade and Industry undersecretary, and Ministry of Economic Development Deputy Minister Alexey Gruzdev meet in Manila on April 19 for the cochairmen’s meeting of the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. 

TRADE Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo and Ministry of Economic Development Deputy Minister Alexey Gruzdev met in Manila on April 19 for the cochairmen’s meeting of the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC).

The JCTEC is a mechanism to improve bilateral economic relations between the Philippines and Russia. During the meeting, the following areas for collaboration were discussed: trade and investment promotion, industry development, labor, higher education, agriculture, energy, transport and atomic sphere and space exploration.

The cochairmen’s said that, with the highest level of support from President Duterte and President Vladimir Putin, both sides are geared toward enhancing trade and investment relations. This is achieved through the following initiatives: trade promotion, accreditation of products for export, utilization on the the Eurasian Economic Union Generalized System of Preferences (EAEU GSP), proposal for a free-trade agreement and updating of the 1992 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

On trade promotion, the Philippines solicited the support of Russia for increased participation in their trade fairs and promotional activities. In this regard, the Philippines expressed its interest to participate in World Food Moscow in September, and Mebel Furniture Fair in November to showcase its food and furniture products to Russia.

To enhance trade, both sides agreed to exchange the final results of the mutual veterinary missions for the audit of Philippine seafood and seafood products and Russian meat products, once finalized. The audit was undertaken to ensure the safety of consumers against diseases and contamination from these export products. Updates on established business arrangements related to import and export of products, supply of engineering and design for steel structure, supply of automobile and trucks, and pipeline transport and construction that were initiated during the official visit to Russia of Duterte last year were reported during the meeting. 

The Philippines sought the assistance of Russia on fully utilizing the EAEU GSP, a unified system of tariff preferences granted by the Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. Selected products covered by this scheme imported from developing country beneficiaries, such as the Philippines, are eligible for a 250-percent discount on customs duties.

To enhance market access, the Philippines proposed to engage in dialogue the Eurasian Economic Commission, the regulating body responsible for the integration of the EAEU, through a proposed memorandum of understanding to understand the market, operations, and regulation of the EAEU.

Both sides also agreed to commence discussions to update the 1992 Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement  as a means to attract and enhance investment relations.

The cochairmen’s meeting was preceded by a business round table attended by 53 local and Russian representatives from the following sectors: aerospace, automotive, chemicals, construction, infrastructure, food, mining, energy, oil and gas, and consultancy.

Following the cochairmen’s meeting, the Russian delegation made a courtesy call to Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Gruzdev shared the interest of the Russian side to further enhance trade and investment relations through the JCTEC. Lopez positively remarked that “coupled with the highest level of support from President Duterte and the thrust of the administration toward rebalancing our economic relations by pursuing nontraditional markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the engagement of the Philippines with Russia will steadily increase.”

Rodolfo expressed his satisfaction on the outcomes of the meeting. He stated, “We hope to explore further the cooperation in other areas and take advantage of the complementarities between our economies in time for the second JCTEC in Moscow in the second half of 2018.”

Russia was the Philippines’s 29th trading partner, 37th export market and 24th import supplier in 2017.

By Aleli Donado | Emerging Products Division | DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

09 May 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

THE Philippines’s first participation in Biofach 2018, held at the Organic Exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, recently recorded total negotiated sales amounting to $27.5 million, roughly P1.426 billion. 

Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), in coordination with the Philippine Trade Investment Center (PTIC)-Germany, the country’s participation in the four-day event provided the Philippine exhibitors the opportunity to showcase organic products duly certified by the European Union (EU). These include muscovado sugar; moringa (malunggay) tea, capsule and powder; roselle flower tea, jams and candies; and coconut products such as virgin coconut oil, dessicated coconut, coco water, coco sugar, coco milk, jams and vinegar. 

Most of the buyers who visited the Philippine Pavilion were on the lookout for ingredients and latest innovations.  

Prior to the event, the DTI-EMB conducted a two-hour information session on “Organic Market Opportunities and Strategies for the Philippines” at the Intercity Hotel in Nuremberg. Speakers included Consul Catherine Torres, first secretary and consul for Economic Affairs, Philippine Embassy in Berlin, Germany; and Pablito F. Aquino, CEO of the Filipinas Organic Coconut Products Corp., a CBI-assisted company, which was on its fourth year of successful participation in Biofach.

Aquino shared with the group that his company went through a lot of coaching and development from CBI before finally establishing its niche market in the EU. He added that raw materials and processed organic products were exhibiting great demand in Europe and emphasized the need to innovate and brand their products through added-value certifications such as fair trade, single origin, or with unique stories behind the farmworkers and their communities highlighted in the packaging.  

The DTI-EMB also conducted a biostores tour within Old City, Nuremberg.  Anna Marie, Biofach accredited tour guide, led the entire group in a visit to five Biostores, namely EBL—the biggest chain of biostores with 28 branches in Nuremberg alone; Mymuesli, home of organic cereals, porridge, milk and tea; Hofpfosterei, an organic bread store; Lotos, an organic food café; and Probier Boutique, an organic brewery.  

The very first foray of Philippine manufacturers of organic-certified products in Biofach exceeded all expectations in terms of booked and negotiated sales, networking, visits to retail stores of organic produce and in-show seminars attended.

The Philippine exhibitors said they were certainly rewarded with more than what they hoped for since this OBMM to Germany proved to be an exciting pathway and valuable gateway to the vast business opportunities presented by the global organic market.

By Maria Jaena Padilla Go-Aco | Market Innovation Division | DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

09 May 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), together with the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport), conducted a workshop on “Unlocking the Potentials of FTA Markets through the Rules of Origin” last May 3 at the DTI International Building.

Philexport President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. noted the seminar workshop played a relevant and important link to the Philippines, most especially to exporters, for it can capture a major share in the global trade.

The seminar aimed to continuously update the business sector on how to avail itself of preferential tariffs when trading with countries where the Philippines has free trade agreements (FTAs) by complying with the rules of origin (ROO). 

Resource speakers were from the Bureau of International Trade Relations (BITR) Assistant Director Angelo Salvador M. Benedictos, Tariff Commission (TC) Senior Tariff Specialist Ma. Luisa D. Laborte, and Bureau of Customs (BOC) Export Coordination Division Customs Operations Officer II Glecee Mae R. Mamaril.

Laborte discussed the importance of knowing the correct tariff code of products.

She said on the discussion of products’ classification with new models, “If the classification is not 2017, then it is not updated. If it is a new model, the function might be different already from the previous model and a reclassification might be necessary. It is up to the BOC if they will honor the old classification.”

The seminar workshop was conducted under DTI-EMB’s Doing Business in Free Trade Areas (DBFTA) program, a nationwide information campaign on Philippine FTAs covering discussions on market opportunities, preferential tariffs, ROO, and customs procedures.

To date, the Philippines as member of the Asean has signed Free Trade Agreements, i.e., Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA), Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (AJCEPA), Asean-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA), and Asean-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement.

The Philippines has also signed two  bilateral FTAs, the Philippine-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (PJEPA) and the Philippine-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) covering Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

By Gina T. Yap | Market Innovation Division | DTI-Export Marketing Bureau

09 May 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged participants to the information session on “Market Opportunities in Viet Nam” to be more active in promoting trade with the Socialist Republic and diversify the Philippines’s export products to that country.

Speaking at the information session organized by the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) and Foreign Trade Service Corps on April 13, and attended by 61 participants representing 34 exporting companies, DTI Undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy Group Ceferino S. Rodolfo said the challenge with Philippine exports to Vietnam is that they are focused on electronics. He urged the participants to sell other products to the neighboring country, which is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, just like the Philippines.

Other speakers in the info session were Commercial Counselor of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Vu Viet Nga and DTI-EMB Assistant Director Agnes Perpetua Legaspi, who provided information about the market trends and business opportunities in Vietnam. 

Vietnam is an economy of 96 million consumers with a growing middle class.  Legaspi stressed that “With the Asean economic integration, most products traded between the Philippines and Vietnam already have zero tariffs, thus providing business people with a lot of opportunities for growth.”

Vietnam is looking for opportunities with English-speaking markets, a competitive edge of the Philippines. In terms of services, one of the country’s main exports would be the production of movies and telenovelas.

Also, Nga emphasized that Vietnam’s e-commerce and the information and communications technology consumer market is increasing.

“We have a lot of companies now in Vietnam like Shopee and Lazada. People tend to buy more online—especially personal-care products and cosmetics. Vietnamese people now tend to use more cosmetics and personal-care products. They buy through online sites such as Facebook and before buying, they first check product reviews online,” she said.

She added that Vietnamese people are also into whitening and cosmetic products, which the Philippines could try to explore. Aside from that, coconut products, English education, franchising, among others, can be explored further.

Nga said there are two ways of penetrating the Vietnamese market. First is by establishing an office or business in Vietnam and second is through the help of an importer as they know the market very well. Vietnamese importers can assist Philippine exporters in setting up shop. She added that meeting potential importers is possible through attending exhibitions and trade fairs.

The information session was held in preparation for the upcoming Outbound Business Matching Mission to Vietnam next month.

09 May 2018

Published also in Business Mirror

IN the May 2, 2018, issue of Export Unlimited, a story titled “PHL receives $185.7-M investment pledges from Singapore companies” included a paragraph that said “Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez also signed an LOI with Asean Business Advisory Council Chairman Robert Yap, which involves a feasibility study on a suitable site for the implementation of a free online marketplace, SGConnect legacy project.”

In an e-mail to the BusinessMirror dated May 4, 2018, Daniel Wong, assistant manager, Executive Chairman’s Office of the YCH Group Singapore, said, “To be clear, the SGConnect legacy project is not a free online marketplace, and is not related to the web site—  https://www.sgconnect.sgRather, the legacy project aims to facilitate integration of Asean states while catering for the envisioned pressure of rapid urbanization.”

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