By Gina Verdeflor / Market Innovation Division, DTI-EMB
IN an effort to help Philippine exporters diversify their markets, the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) urged exporters to tap the emerging Iranian market, the second-largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa after Saudi Arabia.
Iran has an estimated GDP of close to $1.5 trillion in 2016. It also has the second-largest population in the region after Egypt, with an estimated 82.8 million people in 2016.
Total Philippine exports to Iran increased by 15.59 percent from $47.92 million in 2016 to $55.39 million in 2017. This was mainly due to the increase in the exports of pineapples and personal deodorants and antiperspirants.
Bananas comprised about 61.56 percent of Philippine exports to Iran. The other major agricultural exports were pineapples, coconut oil and carrageenan. The top non-agricultural exports consisted of personal deodorants; coated electrodes of base metal; and tubes, pipes and hoses.
Total Philippine imports from Iran increased by 5,768.28 percent from $1.55 million in 2016 to $90.69 million in 2017.
Major imports from Iran comprised of copper ores and concentrates, other waste and scrap containing precious metal or precious metal compounds, bitumen and asphalt, and milk and cream in powder, granules or other solid forms.
In 2017 the Philippines recorded a trade deficit with Iran which amounted to $35.31 million. Philippine exports to Iran grew in the last five years at a rate of 0.32 percent. Other Philippine products that could be exported to Iran are processed tropical fruits, other coconut products, carrageenan, garments, machinery and automotive parts.
The prospects for Philippine exports improved following the Iran Nuclear Deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action when all United Nations sanctions were lifted. However, restrictive measures still remain for nuclear and ballistic missile-related transfers and activities and arms-related transfers. Nuclear and ballistic-related transfers include dual-item materials that also have civilian use. The transfers of these materials need prior authorization from the Security Council through the procurement channel.
Based on a report from Euromonitor International, Iranian consumers, particularly younger consumers, are now robustly embracing online shopping and driving significant growth, even though they are restricted to domestic sites with no official access to international giants such as Amazon.
Among the highly sought products by Iranians are makeup, skin care and antiaging products.
The Iran Ambassador to the Philippines Mohammad Tanhaei said Filipino enterprises have a large, untapped market for their products in his country and urged businessmen to study Iran as a new frontier for Philippine products, not only as a safe place to visit, but a profitable “virgin” market for establishing business ties.