DTI to foray in Africa, new frontier markets

Published December 26, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin


The Philippines will tap the huge and open African market given the region’s growing consumer spending as part of efforts to open new frontiers in non-traditional markets to give more push for the country’s exports, according to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

Lopez told reporters that the Philippines has not really given enough attention to Africa. The DTI itself does not have a dedicated commercial attaché for this continent, even in South Africa, which is represented by the UAE post that also oversees the huge Middle East region. Lopez plans to open a new post for Africa next year.

“We have not really pushed our products in South America although some firms have started doing trade there, but we would like to give it more push,” said Lopez, who also announced plans to target first the high consumption markets like of Africa such as Egypt and Kenya.

Lopez was recently in UAE and met with UAE officials where they agreed to start free trade discussions next year in a bid to conclude a trade deal before 2021.
The Philippines, whose biggest import bill is accounted for by oil, is looking at favorable oil supply at cheaper rates once the FTA with UAE has been forged. The Philippines can also offer UAE industrial and agricultural products in return.

The DTI does not have figures yet about the size of the market in Africa but initial studies showed potentials for the country’s products such as personal care, food, basic industrial items, processed meats, canned tuna, among others.

For UAE alone, economic relations between the two countries are limited to the existing Joint Economic Cooperation, but which could be the stepping stone for future FTA. UAE is Philippines 16th largest trading partner. Philippine exports to UAE in the January-October period this year reached $321.73 million, reflecting a significant 11.2 percent decline from $362.17 million in the same period last year.