AROUND 150 local government units and private business enterprises showcased their products during the opening of the Mindanao Trade Expo last Friday, August 11, at Abreeza Ayala Malls with the purpose of further promoting Mindanao goods to the local and export market.

Included among those that displayed their indigenous products during the expo are the local Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of Sulu, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga del Norte, and Agusandel Sur. Present also were private enterprises such as Casa Soriano, Ninobasilio Handicraft, Yvette’s Bags and Brass Collection, Crystal Seas, Tubo treat, Malagos Chocolate, and V Herbal products.

The different booths feature food, furniture made from indigenous materials, indigenous fabric, bags, pouches, and even fresh fruits and vegatables. The exhibit opened last August 11 and will last until August 20.

“This Mindanao Trade Expo 2017 is empowering communities through creative product design. This is a showcase of the products of the indigenous people of different tribes wherein they showcase their products based on their culture and tradition. The DTI already supported them by way of enhancing the design. We encourage them to make their products available for us to enhance so as to be competitive in the designs of the European and Americans,” said Trade and Industry assistant secretary Ameenah Abcede-Fajardo.

She said local makers of indigenous mat had already been noticed by investors in Europe and had already started exporting their products three weeks ago.

“It’s not really easy to export. That’s what we are trying to do – help and equip the other small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” said Mindanao Trade Expo Foundation Inc. president Rosevicdel Rosario Cembrano adding there had been SMEs that are already exporting for a long time now. SMEs that are willing to venture into exporting will also be assisted as well.

As for his part, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said all those that participated in the expo are critical in strengthening Mindanao’s contribution to the overall export performance and economic development of the country.