More RP-Middle East food trade promoted

May 26 (PNA) — Encouraged by the recent successful outbound business
mission to the Middle East, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
is pressing for more export promotion activities to promote food
products to that market.

DTI is now considering other promotional activities as a
follow-through. These activities include in-store promotions, food
festivals, exchange of visits by businessmen, participation in trade
fairs in the Middle East, and strengthening of trade ties through
cooperation agreements.

mission is in line with the instruction of President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo, through Secretary Peter B. Favila, to strengthen bilateral
trade relations with the Middle East and take advantage of the
continued economic growth of the said market.

Senior Undersecretary Thomas Aquino led the recent mission composed of
government officials, the head of the National Halal Accreditation
Board of the Philippines, and six exporters of food products, all of
whom may be considered as small-to-medium in size.

mission covered three countries, namely: United Arab Emirates (Abu
Dhabi and Dubai), Kuwait and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (in the cities of
Dammam, Riyadh, and Jeddah).

accomplishments of the mission were not limited to the US$ 558,500 in
sales (realizable in the next 60 days) that the business mission
participants earned.

Philippine delegation also made known the advances achieved on Halal
Certification of Philippine food products, particularly the adoption of
a Philippine National Standards for Halal and the establishment of a
National Halal Accreditation Board.

promotion of Halal foods was specifically included in the itinerary of
the mission. The National Halal Certification Board, as represented by
its Chairman, Ustadz Walid Abubakar also met with his counterparts and
discussed areas of cooperation that would hasten the acceptance of
Philippine Halal Products in the Middle East.

Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, headed by Paisal Abdullah and the United Arab Emirates,
presently in Abu Dhabi under Jose Maria Dinsay as well as Philippine
Agriculture Attache Gil Herico, arranged one-on-one business meetings
that acted as a venue for Philippine exporters to meet their
prospective buyers.

these one-on-one pre-arranged business meetings, briefings with
officers of business chambers, and official calls on counterpart
government offices on commerce, trade promotion, and product standards,
the delegation members were directly updated about specific
requirements of market access, particularly on pricing, labeling,
competition, regulations and standards, marketing and promotion.

the business chambers met were the prominent Dubai Chamber of Commerce,
the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Asharqia Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Philippine delegation also met with government officials in UAE,
Kuwait, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), notably: the critically
important Food Control Sections of the Dubai Municipality and the UAE
General secretariat of Municipalities, the UAE Ministry of Foreign
Trade, the Kuwait Ministry of Commerce, the Kuwait Public Authority for
Industry, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Saudi
Food and Drug Authority.

as a direct result of the Business Mission an incremental US$ 1.5
million in sales of food products to the region is expected.

mission also opened to be immediately pursued windows of opportunities
for the promotion of other important Philippine products, such as
furniture and furnishings, holiday décor, and other consumer products.

Middle East Market remains an attractive market for Philippine food
products mainly due to the presence of overseas Filipino workers

estimates that the KSA has roughly about 1.6 million Filipinos, UAE has
320,000 Filipinos, and Kuwait has 130,000 Filipinos.

market for Philippine food in the Middle East is not confined to
Filipinos, as well known Philippine brands have been accepted in the
mainstream market.

was confirmed by the business delegation’s survey of major supermarkets
and hypermarkets, such as Carrefour in Dubai and Riyadh, and Lulu
Supermarket in Abu Dhabi, the City Center and Sultan Center in Kuwait,
Panda Supermarket in Dammam, Danube Hypermarket, and Sarawat
Supermarket in Jeddah.

companies represented include Marigold Commodities (makers of the
famous Mama Sita brand of sauces and condiments), Marikina Food
Corporation (producer of Hobe special noodles), Moondish Foods
Corporation (manufacturer of coconut-based canned vegetables like
“Laing”), Chef Tony’s Snack Food International (makers of unique
caramelized popcorn and snack foods), Pacific Isles International
Trading, Inc. (deals with a variety of processed food products); and
the Metro Kidapawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation Inc.
representing small and medium-sized growers of Cavendish banana, rice,
and corn products in the Cotabato area of Mindanao.

National Halal Accreditation Board represented by Chairman Ustadz Walid
Abubakar assured the Middle East food importers of the important and
serious role of a national halal body that accredits the certifiers of
food as halal, not just for the Philippine market but for the foreign
market as well. (PNA)