Mindanao’s total trade in 2013 grew 15 percent to $7.6 billion in freight-on-board (FOB) receipts, despite the natural calamities that hit the island’s agricultural and production areas.
For 2012, the island-region secured $6.612 billion worth of FOB receipts, based on data gathered and processed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
Mindanao suffered heavy losses from Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), which damaged several provinces of Caraga and Southern Mindanao severely in December 2012.
“We had anticipated a downtrend in some of the region’s agricultural produce particularly banana and coconut because of the typhoon, but on the contrary, banana remained as our top dollar earner in 2013,” said MinDA chairperson Luwalhati Antonino.
FOB receipts for banana products reached $911 million last year, 45 percent higher than the $625 million registered in 2012.
Antonino, however, noted that there is a minor decline in coconut and palm kernel exports last year.
From $890.1 million in 2012, Mindanao’s coconut exports only registered $773.8 million in 2013. The 13 percent shortfall is attributed to the number of coconut trees that were damaged by Typhoon Pablo especially in the province of Davao Oriental. The coconut industry accounted for 14.9 percent of Mindanao exports in 2013.
“But our exports of nickel ores and concentrates significantly increased,” said Antonino, pointing out that in 2013, it recorded an increase of 72.86 percent, which amounted to $639.5 million from only $370 million in 2012.
Moreover, other Mindanao major exports include fish (either prepared or preserved) and caviar that generated USD 614.1 million, or an increase of 92.33 percent from only $319.3 million in 2012, as well as fruits, nuts and other edible parts of plants that accounted for $284.3 million.
Antonino also reported that Mindanao’s total imports in 2013 reached $1.2 billion. These imports were comprised mainly of petroleum oils, $449.2 million; wheat and meslin, $155.5 million; milk and cream, $120.2 million; fish (frozen), $82.4 million; and mineral or chemical fertilizers, $78.8 million, among others.
Mindanao’s major trading partners last year were the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Antonino said that as part of efforts to help sustain the gains of the region’s trade sector, MinDA is advocating a development strategy—Mindanao Development Corridors—that aims to achieve internal connectivity and strengthen the region’s local supply chains to effectively link production centers to the export gateways.
“With this strategy, we expect to create massive employment and generate more income particularly in our agribusiness sectors, as we accelerate trading with our economic partners,” she added.
Antonino also emphasized that in Mindanao, efforts to safeguard the economy from the changing climatic conditions are a priority agenda under the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan, the island-region’s roadmap to long-term peace and development.
“Climate change adaptation is a must since the island-region is the country’s front-runner in terms of agriculture-based exports,” she said.
Antonino explained that to secure the future of Mindanao’s agri-industry, MinDA is also pursuing environment programs such as the MindaNOW! Nurturing Our Waters Program to rehabilitate the island-region’s denuded forest areas and lessen the impact of climate change to the island’s agriculture sector.
MinDa is also closely working with the Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, concerned government agencies, and local government units in efforts to identify areas suitable for cacao production in the island-region.
“Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar business, and we want Mindanao take a sizeable bite in this growing industry,” she said.
Antonino also added that Mindanao’s organic products that include black, red, and brown rice of North Cotabato, as well as the coco sugar of Davao del Sur and Misamis Oriental are currently penetrating markets abroad.
“In the long-term, we’d like to see our organic products in the shelves of major grocery stores in the US and Europe. We are closely working with our trade attaches to firm up partnerships between our local investors and their counterparts overseas,” said added.
Mindanao will be hosting this year’s largest sub-regional trade fair and business leaders’ conference that will gather more than 200 top buyers from the Asean, and about 700 key business representatives from the country as well as from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Dubbed as the 2nd BIMP-EAGA & IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference, the event will be held from October 23 to 26 at SM Lanang Premier’s SMX Convention Center in Davao City.