By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Food processors are not keen on participating in this year’s China International Import Expo (CIIE) following their sad experience during the first expo, but would rather join other expositions that are focused on the promotion of their sector.
Francis Chua, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) who also spearheaded the Philippines’ participation in last year’s CIIE, said he is no longer involved in this year’s preparation.
“I am hands off this year because I could not convince the group of Bobby Amores to join,” he said. Amores is the president of the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc.(Philfoodex), which account for the bulk of the country’s exhibitors during last year’s CIIE.
Chua explained that Philfoodex was discouraged to participate this year because of their experience last year.
“After their difficult experience last year we could not bring them back, the momentum was lost,” Chua explained. Instead, Philfoodex is now looking at other expositions like the Canton Fair that offer free participation and targeted for the food sector.
Chua refused to call it a “boycott” by Philfoodex of the CIIE, but stressed, “We want a friendlier term than last year.” Because of the wide promotion last year, Philfoodex firms were scrambling for space for a fee of $2,000 but they ended up sharing their booths, which are scattered in different areas of the expo, because of lack of space.
This time, the CIIE organizers have allotted 900 square meter space for the Philippines in one location, which is equivalent to 460 booths at $3,000 each. However, Filipino firms have lost interest.
So far, there are only 6 takers from the PCCI, but no one from Philfoodex. The rest of the space may be filled up by companies approved by the Department of Trade and Industry, according to Chua.
“Actually, the condition is much better this time but it is difficult to drum up interest this year because of their experience last year,” said Chua.
He recalled that Filipino exhibitors were not refunded from their payments last year. Good enough, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez stepped in and DTI constructed the booth in a 300 square meter space for the Filipino exhibitors.
“We would like to see a friendlier expo this year and if that happens we may be back next year in full force,” he concluded.
This year’s CIIE is slated on November 5-10 in Shanghai. It is the first dedicated import exhibition in China where companies from around the world can introduce themselves to the Chinese market and explore opportunities for local cooperation.