Trade barriers still haunt local exporters

WHILE China presents a huge growth opportunity for Filipino exporters, the trade pivot must include fixing trade barriers, said a top official of the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) Cebu.

“The warming ties between China and the Philippines send a strong signal that we are a promising participant of China’s giant trade, and while we are already increasing our exports to this country, like seafood and fruits, we need to fix the trade barriers,” said Philexport Cebu president Nelson Bascones. He said eliminating trade barriers would give exporters (both big and small) equal opportunities to snatch a piece of China’s ballooning consumer market.

Language, trade policies and business culture are among the barriers seen by the Filipino business community in dealing with China, especially since they are used to the trading practices of Western countries.

“Most exporters are still trying to adjust to the different way of doing business in China,” he said. However, he noted that they are now starting to look at China as a market rather than a competitor.

“Our seafood exports are now slowly entering China, along with our high-value crops. We now encourage our fellow exporters to study doing business with China well,” said Bascones, who owns Central Seafoods Inc.

Central Seafoods Inc. exports large volumes of fresh and processed seafood products, mostly to the United States.

As of November last year, China has imported some 13,000 batches of tropical fruits from the Philippines and 14 new flights have been opened between the two countries.

Reports from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the country’s merchandise export performance continued on a positive trajectory, increasing by 10.79 percent in January to November of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

The leading destination of the country’s exports was still the combined markets of China and Hong Kong. Shipments to this combined market, with a share of 24.49 percent, increased by 20.99 percent in value.

The next leading destination is Japan, with a 16.42-percent share, followed by United States with 14.60 percent share in total exported goods.
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