Philippines-China Closer Ties Opens More Trade opportunities for Agri-Exporters in IFEX Philippines

Runner Rocky

“There is a lot of interest from the Chinese market lately because of the ‘Duterte factor.’ The Philippine-China relationship has been growing really fast, it’s now at a golden era. We should capture this momentum. It’s an opportunity to promote to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xiamen, Beijing, including HK and Macau,” explained Antonio Tiu, chairman and CEO of AgriNurture, Inc., and one of the country’s agri-export pioneers participating in the 11th edition of IFEX Philippines on May 19-21 at the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM).

Based on China’s National Bureau of Statistics, food imports in China have recorded an annual average growth of almost 15 percent in the past five years.  By 2018, China is expected to become the top importer of foreign food products, with the total value of food imports set to reach RMB 480 billion (US$77 billion).

“In the upcoming IFEX Philippines, more exporters are excited to venture in the Chinese market now that the economic superpower is considered as the world’s biggest food importer,” said DTI-CITEM Executive Director Clayton Tugonon. “Philippine companies have an edge in capitalizing on China’s huge food demand, thanks to the latest diplomatic arrangements brought by the efforts of President Rodrigo Duterte.”

China has surpassed the United States to become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Even with 500 million farmers, China has been unable to meet the country’s growing demand for agricultural products.

Last March, China signed an agreement to buy USD 1.7 billion worth of fruits and other agricultural products from the Philippines. On February, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua also encouraged the Philippines to pr oduce more dried mangoes to meet the "insatiable" demand in their country. 

Ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Beijing last year, China has lifted restrictions on banana, and pineapple exports; and welcomed exports of Philippine mangoes, coconut and dragon fruit as well as lapu-lapu (grouper), crabs, shrimps, prawns, tuna and bangus (milk fish). Led by Duterte, Philippine delegation also managed to secure a commitment from China to finance $24 billion worth of investment projects and credit facilities for the Philippines. 

‘Duterte factor’ heralds ‘golden era’ between PH-China ties

As one of the first Philippine companies to venture into the Chinese market, Tiu  said that the upcoming IFEX Philippines also offers the perfect opportunity for local companies to showcase other agricultural products for China. 

With 90% of its company revenue comes from its export business, ANI has already been exporting Philippine fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, sweetened fruits, sweetened fruit purees and concentrates, dried fruit snacks, and beverages since 1997. It served buyers from the Greater China region, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East, Europe, and North America. 

Premium agri-export selection from AgriNurture Inc. at the IFEX Philippines – Media Preview on May 5.

While the Philippines has always enjoyed a huge demand for its so-called “champion products” like pineapple, banana, and mango, Tiu noted that there is still a big room for export growth on other agricultural products in our local farms.
“There’s nothing that prohibits us from developing some new champions that I foresee has a lot of advantages in terms of the Philippine soil, climate, and the distance to China, which is now the biggest market. For example, calamansi, cacao, coffee, guyabano, avocado, sampaloc and kamias. These are the exotic products that this new market will demand. We should seize this opportunity,” Tiu adds.  
Tiu says AgriNurture started its export business by participating in programs organized by DTI-CITEM. “My first business matching trip was organized by DTI-CITEM in Guangzhou. We have been joining since the start of IFEX. It’s a very good venue to re-establish contact with old friends and with new acquaintances, to showcase your new products, and also learn new things from other colleagues,” he says.

La Natural: ANI’s premium brand of coco water drink.

“We used to be a pioneer of coconut water. This year, other than continuing to push for growth in the export of coco water, we have come up with a lot of new beverages particularly the morning cola drink, and some others like calamansi, dalandan, that we think will attract international attention. The moringa cola is a health drink. We also have other organic drinks,” says Tiu. “It’s an effort of continuous innovation to develop new items which are future growth.” 

ANI is also showcasing its retail brands, Big Chill and Tully’s Coffee, a brand from Seattle which Tiu brought to the region. “Franchise is also an opportunity in China,” he adds.

IFEX Philippines, Asia’s ethnic food & ingredients show, is the country’s biggest international trade exhibition on the Philippines’ and Asia's specialty food, with around 700 exhibitor companies, attracting wholesale buyers, importers and food distributors from all over the world. 

IFEX Philippines is organized by the Department of Trade and Industry, through its Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI-CITEM), in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, through its Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS), and the ASEAN Committee on Business and Investment Promotion (CBIP), which is chaired by DTI. 05/13/2017 (The Lifestyle Portal)

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