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IFEX Philippines ‘22 posts $100-M initial export sales, P56-M domestic revenue

THE Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem), the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said on Tuesday that it exceeded its sales target for the recently concluded IFEX Philippines 2022.

Based on initial consolidated sales report of the participants for the government-run food trade show, export sales approximately reached $100 million while domestic sales amounted to P56 million.

“Target for export sales is $39.49 million. [Such] target is 264 percent realized as of September 30. [But we’re still] clarifying if we have domestic sales targets because our mandate is only international,” Citem Information Officer IV Pia Lorraine Y. Dalmazo told the BusinessMirror in an e-mail interview.

Event organizer Citem expects these figures to increase once the sales data from all the more than 300 Filipino exhibitors come in.

Nearly 6,000 local and foreign buyers and visitors trooped to the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City, from September 22 to 24, to see and purchase thousands of premium local food products exhibited during the expo. Apart from different parts of the Philippines, some visitors came all the way from the United States, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Japan, and Australia.

Citem Deputy Executive Director Ma. Lourdes D. Mediran said that IFEX Philippines 2022 was designed to be “a site of reunion and rediscovery” where Philippine food companies and international buyers can reaffirm their partnerships and make new connections.

Senators Cynthia Villar and Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos graced the opening ceremony, together with top local and foreign government officials.

In her recorded keynote speech, the former underscored the role of agriculture in uplifting the economy and the efforts being made to assist the sector.

Villar said supporting the agriculture industry is needed to guarantee flexibility during crises like the lingering Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should continue supporting our local produce to ensure our food security and self-sufficiency,” said Villar, who serves as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform.

She also talked about the problems now affecting the food and agriculture sectors, including import reliance, food shortages, and hunger.

Marcos, who is the vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and chairperson of the Committee on Cooperatives, emphasized the importance of backing up the micro, small and  medium enterprises (MSMEs) to address these issues.

“The truth of the matter is that I truly believe that in the end, all these depressing views in the agricultural and food sector can only be righted by a much more vigorous and vibrant MSME and retail population,” she said.

Citing the global factors that affect the country’s economy, DTI Undersecretary Ireneo Vizmonte noted that these conditions require sustainable and inclusive response from the national government.

Reiterating their commitment to uplift the country’s food sector, he pointed out that science, technology and innovation are vital in establishing a competitive economy—the very focus of DTI under the leadership of Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

“The goal is to grow and develop globally competitive and innovative industries that support inclusive growth and improve environmental sustainability and the quality of life for Filipinos,” Vizmonte said.

Vizmonte said one of their priorities is the digital transformation of MSMEs and the growth and development of startups. Through innovation and digitalization, the agency will double its efforts to upgrade and scale MSMEs to improve their productivity growth, employment creation, and participation in global value chains.

“The MSME sector is instrumental to the growth of the Philippine economy, accounting for 99 percent of all businesses in the country. Needless to say, it is of utmost importance that we ensure that entrepreneurs have access to all the resources, platforms, and technologies that they need to grow their businesses,” Vizmonte said.

Pushing for industrialization, he added that they will reconfigure the export industry into three clusters—industrial, manufacturing, and transport; technology, media, and telecommunication; and health and life sciences—to build up more the country as an exporter of high-value products.

Assistant Secretary Glenn Peñaranda, officer-in-charge of DTI’s Trade Promotions Group (TPG), echoed this in his recorded welcome message by highlighting programs aimed at boosting the competitiveness of MSMEs in the global market, including capacity-building like the Philippine Trade Training Center’s Global MSME Academy, export assistance project RIPPLES; and market access platforms like Citem’s signature programs and participation in overseas trade fairs.

“The Philippines is one of the most exciting destinations for quality food exports, but with stiff competition from our neighbors, and other drivers such as climate change and health crises, we must continuously adapt and reassert our place in the market,” he said.

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