Tap new markets while key partners are weak, exporters told

With the 'going out of business' sign aplenty in rich trade partners, Philippine exporters are being urged to tap other non-traditional markets like Australia and New Zealand. REUTERS PHOTO means BUSINESS


MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is encouraging Filipino exports to tap new markets in order to make up for the apparent weakening of demand from rich but problematic economies.

Adrian S. Cristobal, DTI undersecretary for Industry Development and Trade Policy, said Filipino exporters must look to other non-traditional markets like Australia and New Zealand, including others where the Philippines has preferential trade agreements, while the economies of the United States, Europe and Japan---top Philippine trade partners and investors---continue to languish.

Their economic weaknesses had been among the key reasons for the decision on Thursday of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to downgrade its growth forecast for the Philippines this year and the next.

The US is barely recovering from the impact of the 2008-2009 crisis. The euro zone is beset by a debt crisis, and Japan is still recovering from the twin quake-tsunami disasters last March 11.

“Exploring and developing emerging markets with which we have the advantage of eliminated tariff barriers is an opportunity for businesses to expand and increase output,” Cristobal said in his statement on Friday.

Japan was the country's top export market last year, followed by the United States.  

Australia ranked 18th and New Zealand, 45th.  

The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand preferential trade agreement (AANZFTA) entered into force in January 2010. It embraces trade in goods, services, investments, intellectual property, e-commerce, entry of business people, and economic cooperation. 

Under this accord, 96.4 percent and 84.7 percent of all products that may be imported by Australia and New Zealand, respectively, can enter their markets duty-free.

Ross Bray, senior trade commissioner of Australia, said Australians are looking for high-quality, well-designed products from the Philippines. 

“With the increased interest in doing business between the two countries, Australian and Philippine businesses should be seeking partnerships in automotive components, IT and BPO services, just to name a few,” Bray said.

Hernando Banal II, Trade commissioner  of the Embassy of New Zealand, advised Filipino exporters to continuously improve their product image, standards and its way of doing business in order to draw more investors into the country.

He urged Filipino exporters to use AANZFTA to their advantage.