Diplomats prepare to pitch Cebu exports more

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Friday, March 14, 2014


AT LEAST 27 Philippine ambassadors visited the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Tindahang Pinoy store in Mandaue City last Thursday as part of their study tour.

While their colleagues toured the 500-square-meter space that sells export-quality products, Victoriano Lecaros, ambassador of the Philippines to the Czech Republic, and Vicente Vivencio Bandillo, ambassador of the Philippines to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives, in an interview, expressed confidence that Cebu’s export products can compete well in the global market.

“Dili ni lisud ang pagmarket. Actually, ang lisud ani ang supply. Makakab-ot ba kaha ta sa ilang demand unya? Maka-supply ba kaha ta? (It won’t be difficult to market Cebu’s products. What will be difficult is ensuring supply. Will we be able to meet the demand?)” said Lecaros.

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He noted the study tour program of the Department of Foreign Affairs emphasized economic diplomacy, so that the diplomatic corps can do more to help the country sell its products and attract investors to come to the Philippines and put up manufacturing plants.

“There is no question about the superiority of our products in terms of design and craftsmanship. What we fear is our products might be copied. So, mas maayo kita ang mamaligya (it’s better if we do the selling ourselves),” Lecaros said.

Prior to the afternoon tour at Tindahang Pinoy, the ambassadors visited Kenneth Cobonpue’s furniture showroom and Justin Uy’s Profood International Corp., the manufacturer of processed food products such as dried mangoes.

Bandillo, for his part, said the group is still evaluating which Philippine products they can sell in Bangladesh, the world’s second largest garment exporter next to China.

“Bangladesh is another poor country, whose purchasing power is not that high, but I believe we have a lot of market opportunities. We just have to make sure that there really are buyers there,” he said.

The Tindahang Pinoy was originally conceptualized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as a mechanism to help exporters and traders reach more tourists, by making their products more accessible. Tindahang Pinoy outlets operate in Davao, Pampanga and Cebu.

The Cebu branch, which opened in 2012, is managed by the Cebu Gifts, Toys and Houseware (GTH) Foundation Inc.

Charmaine Ong, chairperson of Tindahang Pinoy-Cebu and Cebu GTH vice-president for external affairs, said the store has become a one-stop-shop for homecoming gifts by local and foreign tourists.

Tindahang Pinoy has made arrangements with travel agencies and hotels to bring their guests to the store.

Seventy percent of the products displayed are from Cebu, while the remaining 30 percent are sourced from other parts of the country. From 50 exhibitors in 2012, the store now has a total of 86.

Sales in 2013 stood at P2.6 million.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2014.

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