NEW Zealand expects trade with the Philippines to continue to show strong growth in the coming years thanks to strong Filipino demand for its hugely popular food and beverage products.
Food and beverage products remain the biggest New Zealand trade export to the Philippines, making up 80 percent of total exports, which have been growing by about 11 percent annually.
Dairy products such as milk powder, cream, butter and cheese accounted for a large majority of total exports to the country in 2013, New Zealand trade officials said.
“The Philippines is New Zealand’s 12th largest export market and about its second largest market for dairy products behind China,” Hernando Banal II, New Zealand’s trade commissioner to the Philippines, said during a media roundtable discussion at the New Zealand embassy.
New Zealand exports about six times as much to the Philippines as it imports from the country, while more than half of Philippine exports to New Zealand are fruit products, mostly bananas.
In recent years, New Zealand has also noted a shift in Philippine market preferences from low-value commodities like dairy powder, to more high-end products like yogurt and ice cream. Manufacturing grade meat has also made way for the entry of premium-cut meat, trade officials said.
New Zealand and the Philippines have a bilateral relationship under the ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA). Under the agreement, approximately 99 percent of tariff lines are scheduled to be eliminated by 2020.
A recent trade mission headed by New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser early this month yielded new agreements in technical and consulting services related to geothermal energy, IT and healthcare systems. New Zealand officials said NZ technology innovations and systems have been a long running and little known contribution to local business.
New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore said that the rapidly growing Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines presents an opportunity for New Zealand engineering and IT companies to grow their business while generating employment here in the Philippines.
Levermore also cited as an example the experience of General Santos City-based Alliance Select Food International, which uses New Zealand technology from joint venture partner Prime Foods NZ, to process and export New Zealand salmon across Asia.
New Zealand technical expertise contributed towards the eventual construction of the Philippines’ first geothermal plant and hosted Filipino scientists in further training. “New Zealand technology and expertise aligns very well with Philippine scale,” Levermore said.
The pioneering technology used for sharing mobile phone loads is also a Kiwi-contributed innovation. New Zealand SMEs have also contributed in the development of mobile apps, secure payment systems including credit card payment gateways, and geotechnical services utilized for undersea mapping, exploration, dam safety, and disaster hazards/mitigation.
These New Zealand firms train local employees in the use of these services, ensuring the transfer of technology and knowledge to Filipinos, the New Zealand officials explained.
Trade Commissioner Banal sees further growth potential in engineering, information communications technology, and specialized manufacturing.
“In order to encourage further two-way investment, it is important for businessmen from New Zealand and the Philippines to visit each other’s countries to gain a closer understanding of the business environment and potential.”
Meanwhile, Levermore invited Filipinos to come and experience the best of New Zealand through its food and beverage trade fair from June 20-22, 2014 at the Glorietta Activity Center.
The “Experience New Zealand” trade fair will showcase not just top quality food and beverage products but will also include a tourism component as New Zealand is hoping to attract more tourists from the Philippines.