PH agri exports reach new markets amid COVID-19

May 4 2020

MAKATI – Philippine agricultural exports broke into three new international markets, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the varied local community quarantines. In the past two months, maiden shipments of avocados arrived in China, cacao in Belgium, and coconut milk in Russia.

Department of Trade and Industry-Trade Promotions Group Undersecretary Adbulgani M. Macatoman attributed these milestones to the efforts of the DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps (DTI-FTSC) overseas and the DTI-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) in the Philippines. Usec. Macatoman said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) also plays a crucial role in ensuring adequate supply and negotiating market access protocols with other countries.

Philippine avocados officially entered China through a 7.7-ton shipment from the fruit company Dole Philippines. The avocados were shipped from Davao and arrived on the Dole China processing plant in Shanghai on 31 March 2020. The avocados will be first sold by Alibaba Group’s supermarket chain Hema Xiansheng and will be available in more stores in the future.

On the other hand, Auro Chocolate brought Philippine cacao beans to the European market through a shipment to Antwerp, Belgium on 16 April 2020. The shipment, which brought 20,000kg of Mindanao-sourced, premium cacao beans, was composed of five different cacao varieties, including the Paquibato Origin, winner of the Cocoa Excellence Award in 2019.

Lastly, Philippine brand Coco Daily organic coconut milk arrived at the port of Saint Petersburg first week of April. Russian importer PanAsia Impex Ltd. said that the 1-liter packages of Coco Daily that arrived in the 40-foot shipping container will be available to mainstream consumers during the spring in Russia, which typically runs from March to May.

“Now is the time for Philippine agricultural products to thrive,” said DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada. He said that DTI-EMB will strengthen its coordination with the DA and DTI-FTSC to match supply with demand. In turn, DTI-EMB will capacitate existing and aspiring exporters for them to be able to comply with international standards.

“COVID-19 may lead to market access issues and non-tariff measures. It may be more difficult to comply with stricter regulations, certifications, external and domestic regulations. The DTI-EMB commits to assist exporters, especially MSMEs, to comply with these requirements and introduce their products to the world,” said Perlada. END

From L to R: Mr. Terry Chan, General Manager of Dole China, and Vice Consul Mario C. Tani of Philippine Trade and Investment Center Shanghai. Photo courtesy of DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps

Philippine brand Coco Daily organic coconut milk. Photo courtesy of
DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps

DTI-DOLE guidelines on ECQ, GCQ list minimum health protocol as businesses reopen

MANILA – Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the guidelines jointly issued by the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Labor and Employment (DOLE) allowing the private sector to operate during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) will manage the risks of COVID-19 transmission even as it opens up the country’s economy.

“More sectors will be allowed to open and operate within a controlled environment as long as they implement health protocols and standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We want to ensure that we don’t lose the gains we’ve achieved under the ECQ period,” Sec. Lopez said.

“The guidelines we have set will not only ensure the safety and health of our workers. More importantly, they are meant to enhance their productive capacity by eliminating risks in the workplaces,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III explained.

He added, “The full cooperation between employers and workers in observing the new protocols is a necessary element in transitioning the workplaces into the new normal.

Sec. Lopez further emphasized that it is important to reopen the economy, and the key factor is to increase Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-testing capacity—which is the gold standard in testing against COVID-19—to continue to lower the country’s infection or transmission rate.

“This will give us confidence that the threat of infection rate can be better controlled and managed,” he said.

The DTI-DOLE guidelines shall apply to all workplaces, employers, and workers in the private sector, and are aligned with the objectives of the minimum health standards of the Department of Health (DOH) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the requirements are the wearing of facemasks, the submission of a daily health symptoms questionnaire, and the constant checking of temperature. Likewise, equipment and vehicles entering operation areas should undergo disinfection process, and physical distancing must be observed in any long queues outside the office or store premises.

The guidelines also set the standard procedure for employers on what to do if a worker or employee is suspected of having COVID-19, ranging from the isolation of the worker or employee, the protection of clinic personnel with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), the decontamination of the workplace and the PCR testing of the employee. There should be an arrangement with testing facilities and laboratories as well as proper health insurance coverage.

“Not all workers need to be tested and the protocol is that they should fill up a health declaration. If they’ve been exposed to a patient positive for COVID-19 or if they’re feeling unwell, that’s the time it should be protocol for them to be isolated and get PCR-tested,” Sec. Lopez said.

He clarified that the PCR-testing is important but it must be targeted first to those who are what we refer to now as COVID-19 suspects. Sec. Lopez added, however, that companies always have the option to PCR test all their workers prior to reporting.

Inside the workplace, all work areas shall be cleaned and disinfected regularly at least every two hours, while sanitizers, clean water, and soap shall be made available for use. Gathering and eating together in communal areas is discouraged, and physical distancing should always be practiced in office workstations or in operational areas.

Alternative work arrangements like working-hour shifts and work-from-home (WFH) are also encouraged when feasible and on a rotation basis. Prolonged face-to-face interaction between workers and clients are discouraged. Meetings needing physical presence shall be kept to a minimum number of participants and with a short duration. Instead, videoconference should be utilized for lengthy discussions.

In workplaces with high risk of infection like in healthcare and other frontline services, workers should take extra precautionary measures such as strict hygiene and the use of PPEs.

Sec Lopez stressed, “While the need to reopen the economy to bring back jobs is urgent, we have to be extra careful because a second wave of the COVID-19 will be costlier. These guidelines will help us manage these risks.” END

DTI helps MSMEs and Bataan mango growers in 4th and 5th Bagsakan

The Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (BDTP) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in coordination with the DTI-Region III, DTI-Bulacan, and DTI-Bataan held its 4th and 5th Bagsakan on April 27 and 29 at the DTI Head Office Parking Area to support MSMEs from Bulacan and Bataan and the Bataan mango growers. The MSMEs were Amanda’s Marine Products, Beakris House of Goodies, Gloria’s Delicacies, Gracielo’s Cashew Products, Magpoc’s Araro Cookies, Mama Cili Bangus Sardines, and Joyful Garden Farm Organic Farmers Association, Inc.

The two-day Bagsakan sold out 4.7 tons of Bataan mangoes and generated Php 843,152 total sales continuing the success of BDTP’s Bagsakan project. Through the project and social media accounts more MSMEs, local farmers and fruit growers will showcase their products. The event was marketed online and orders from the public were taken before the event.

The BDTP and the DTI Regional and Provincial Offices proudly support Filipino MSMEs and the government in adherence to the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” and relevant issuances that ensure the availability of goods, particularly food and medicine.

Watch out for the next Bagsakan on May 7 (Thursday) at the DTI Head Office. On sale will be Zambales mangoes, Pampanga watermelons, salted eggs, fried itik, Bulacan organic rice, Nueva Ecija dairy products, Tarlac vegetables, Bataan araro, bagoong, nilasing na hipon, ready to eat dilis, pusit cashew nuts, and other Filipino delicacies. Follow DTI-BDTP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to get the latest news and updates. END