2 Mindanao export firms on permanent shutdown

Published September 7, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Two export companies in Northern Mindanao have permanently shutdown operations pushed by the adverse impact of the pandemic while others are seeking government intervention amid continuing challenges in sustaining their operations.

This was revealed by Valerie R. Lasmarias, acting managing director for Cagayan de Oro chapter of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PhilExport) during an online regional consultation.

Lasmarinas identified the two firms that have closed shop for good as South Bukidnon Fresh Trading Inc. and Valencia Rubbertex Inc.

At the time of closure, South Bukidnon Fresh Trading Inc. had an estimated work force of 204 employees and their last total export value was approximately P60.652 million. South Bukidnon is an exporter of fresh fruits to the Middle East.

Valencia Rubbertex Inc., producer of rubber boots and working   shoes for export to Southeast Asia, employed roughly 192 people with total exports of $2 million at the time of closure.

Lasmarinas said the COVID-19 pandemic had brought South Bukidnon down to its knees while the operation of Valencia Rubbertex was already unstable but its closure was hastened by the pandemic.

According to Lasmarinas, Northern Mindanao’s exports of pineapples declined by as much as 70 percent from February- May this year, but demand is increasing starting June. Del Monte Philippines is the region’s largest pineapple producer with several contracts

with small farmers/groups in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Exports of bananas also declined by as much as 80 percent from Feb-May 2020 although demand is slowly recovering starting June. Main producers are Del Monte Fresh & Dole Philippines, which have several contracts with small farmers/groups in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

Shrimp exports practically stood still in March because the region’s main exporter Agri-Aquatic Care Enterprise, Inc., which has main processing plant at Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, had difficulty sourcing from small fisherfolks and pond operators from Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Zamboanga Peninsula.

During the Export Development Plan Regional Consultations by the Export Development Council, Mindanao Philexport chapters submitted similar recommendations focusing on access to financing and markets and trade facilitation.

Region XII, which hosts some of the banana growers and exporters in the country, has urged government to fast track the reduction of tariffs for bananas and other agriculture products to South Korea and Japan, the country’s largest export markets for bananas.

Mindanao companies have also urged for the extension of stimulus package such as subsidies to pay for wages, raw materials and working capital.

Exporters from the CARAGA region also said they are on a “wait and see” mode and their foremost concern is “day to day survival.”