PH eyes new markets to boost export growth

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PHILIPPINE exporters are looking to penetrate new markets to increase export revenues by as much as 3 percent in this year, a trade official said on Friday.

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Senen Perlada, executive director of the Export Development Council and director of the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), identified some of these new markets as South Africa, Israel, Iran and Russia.

“We are trying to see whether we can pick up something from maybe as far away South Africa. We want to be able to develop more with Israel, especially for startups, and be able to gain something from them also in terms of investments,” he said.

South Africa, positioned as a manufacturing center of excellence, serves as the gateway to the African markets and its more than 260 million consumers.

Available opportunities for investments and trade have been identified in South Africa in priority sectors, such as advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, automotive and components, capital equipment, information communications technology (ICT) and electronics, among others, the DTI said.

Perlada said Iran is also considered a huge market opportunity following the lifting of the nuclear-based sanctions.

“They [Iran] have been very keen on being able to trade and engage . . . My gut feel is that there is a lot that they want to be able to engage with the rest of the world, which they have been prevented from doing so because of the sanctions,” he said.

Iran, the second-largest economy in the Middle East and North African region after Saudi Arabia, offers opportunities for trade and investment in the health-care and pharmaceutical industry, science and technology, and retail, he said.

Russia is also a “very important” market, Perlada added.

“We have not done too much with Russia. Russia can actually offer GSP [General System of Preferences] to the Philippines but the Philippines is not able to enjoy anything because there are certain administrative things we have to take care of to be able to avail of GSP benefits from Russia,” he explained.

Russia’s GSP covers about 2,800 goods, which include meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, coffee, cocoa, rice, coconut oil and processed foods.

The DTI-EMB also identified priority markets in 2017 as North America, Middle East, China and Asia.

The country’s top markets currently include Japan, China and Hong Kong.

“China is important. I hope that China will be able to pick up the slack of globalization that would be left by the U.S.,” Perlada said.

“This year, for total exports, we are still looking at zero to 3 percent [growth]. . . [We will hit $100 billion revenues] on or before 2020 and then $120 billion by 2022,” Perlada said earlier.

In 2016, total merchandise exports declined 4.4 percent to $56.23 billion from $58.83 billion in the previous year.

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