By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: The Philippines needs more exposure to a ‘highly competitive Kuwaiti market,’ said Dr Hani M Al-Mazeedi, Associate Research Scientist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). Speaking before the delegation of Filipino business representatives from food sectors, Al-Mazeedi said that the Philippines has a lot more to do when it comes to securing Kuwaiti consumer’s trust when it comes to buying products.
I think the fact that food products from the Philippines were not exposed to Kuwaiti market they need a lot more of ‘convincing power’ to persuade us [Kuwaitis] to buy your food products. An exhibition of this kind will help, but I proposed that a commercial trading facility is necessary. They need to introduce their products and explain the ingredients to consumers,” he added.
He also proposed labeling all their products/ingredients with ‘halal’ as many in Kuwait would prefer to eat/use halal food products under the supervision of Halal Certification Board of the Philippines. The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is visiting the country as part of the Middle East roadshow, which will take them to Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The message of Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan Primavera was read out by Vice Consul Rea Oreta during the event. He said, the event was being held at a unfortunate time when the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Kuwait was shut down a year of operations.
Short-lived as it was, it helped sustain opportunities to promote the Philippines as a viable investment destination with the entry of Kuwait Gulf Link in Clarkfield Pampanga,” he said. “KGL invested over a billion dollars in developing of global gateway logistics city which could generate of up to 70,000 new jobs,” the envoy added. He said, the Philippines is awaiting promised investments from Alghanim and Alshaya group of companies.
In terms of product availability in Kuwait, Primavera noted that almost all major supermarkets here have already been selling products which captured not just the Filipino market but also the Kuwaiti and other expat groups alike. He revealed that the 2009 CITEM exhibition in Kuwait produces about US $10 million worth of contracts.
That is why we are supporting such exhibitions which are constant variables in our economic work plan, support the proposal to relax documentary procedures for our exporters, reduce the cost of authentication fees for documents and shortens the clearance period for trade samples in addition to relaxing visa requirements for visiting businessmen and exporters to the Philippines,” he stated.
Jojie Dinsay, Commercial Attache for the GCC region, remarked that the food exhibition has offered a very good opportunity for both the delegates and prospective buyers to penetrate Philippines and Kuwaiti markets. According to Dinsay, food accounts for 35 percent of Philippines’ total exports to Kuwait.
Some of our top food exports were tuna [15 percent], fresh bananas [14 percent] canned and fish products [4.5 percent]. Kuwait serves as the gateway to the Iraqi and Saudi Arabia. However, it still has a lot of untapped potential as a market for our world-class food products.” There are 12 companies from the Philippines that participated in a one-day food exhibition event held at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel last Thursday.