• SME-exporters need govt help to compete in Asean

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    SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) want to compete with their Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) peers, but they need promotional funds and market research in order to do so, according to an exporters’ group.

    In line with the government drive to access new markets and raise Philippine export competitiveness, the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) is calling for enhanced channels through which critical market intelligence reports can flow to the export community, said Ma. Flordeliza Leong, the group’s assistant vice president for advocacy.

    In a statement on Friday, Leong said tackling the information gap when it comes to regional markets and Asean competitors is one of the urgent government interventions the export community seeks.

    SME-exporters lack the resources to conduct regular field research on opportunities in new markets. “It is in this area of gathering current, relevant information on the ground about our new trading partners that we strongly need government help,” she said.

    The country is “only scratching the surface” in terms of knowledge about the Asian marketplace, Leong noted. “Despite our proximity to them, we practically know very little of the buying patterns of our neighbors,” she said.

    “What are the things we can produce in big volumes that the Chinese, the Indians, the Japanese, the Thais and the Indonesians may be interested in buying? Who are their importers, traders and other potential partners? What prices and consumer trends are dominant? There are a lot of key facts we want and need to know to open new markets,” she said.

    Equally crucial are inputs on what other regional exporters, especially in Asean, are up to, Leong further said.

    “If we are lacking fresh information on our potential and present markets, we know even less about what our competitors are doing to beat us. It is in this area—intimately knowing the market and competition—where exporters badly need fresh information,” she said.

    The Asean consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

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