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Foreign Trade Service Corps explores trade and investment opportunities in the Island of Panay

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The Department of Trade and Industry led by Undersecretary Rowel Barba, supervising Undersecretary of the Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) together with FTSC Executive Director Emmanuel Ang and the home based Foreign Trade Service Officers in coordination with DTI Region 6 conducted its Regional Visit to the island of Panay last 4-6 March 2019. The purpose of the regional visit was to collaborate with the local government and business sector to promote products and services from Panay Island and to attract foreign direct investments to the Region.

The group was warmly received by Mayor Jose Espinosa III at the Mayor’s office last 5 March 2019. Mayor Espinosa and Usec. Rowel Barba discussed the assistance requested by Iloilo for the overseas business missions and trade fair participation that the province will conduct this April in Southern China. Usec. Rowel Barba has instructed our Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Guangzhou, China to assist the Ilo-Ilo delegation.  Iloilo officials also informed the FTSC officers of the exportable home-grown brands that can be promoted and the industries where foreign investments are encouraged.

Exploring areas for cooperation

A Trade and Investment Dialogue was organized by DTI Region 6 with the various industry groups in Iloilo City. The groups represented in the dialogue were the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Iloilo Federation for Information Technology (IFIT), Gaisano Development Group. During the dialogue, Iloilo was presented as a City of Excellence where work – life balance is a major focus in terms of environmental and urban planning. Ilo-ilo has garnered various awards such as the Clean Air City Champion in 2017 and the most bike friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) in 2018. Iloilo City is proud of its “Economic Triangle”, a large area where the major developers like Megaworld, Ayala Land, Filinvest, Gaisano Grand, Double Dragon, Robinsons Group and the SM group have undertaken various commercial projects ranging from shopping malls, hotels, commercial spaces to residential buildings.

The DTI delegation was also briefed on the (IT-BPM) Information Technology-Business Process Management industry which has become the bedrock of Iloilo’s dramatic real estate growth. “The 27,000 college and 10,000 vocational technology graduates of Iloilo also adds to the attraction of the province to investors looking for  highly capable and skilled workforce” Ms. Che Gavan from the Mayor’s Office mentioned.

FTSC Exec. Dir. Emman Ang explained the role of the FTSC officers who head our 28 Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTICs) overseas. “The regional visit is intended to bring us in closer cooperation with the local government and the private businesses in the country side to promote merchandise and service exports and facilitate inward foreign direct investments.”

In one of the sessions with the private sector, one businessman inquired about the potential of exporting banana chips using the Saba variety of bananas to Europe and what other crops to cultivate aside from sugarcane and rice. Usec. Rowel Barba explained that China has committed to purchase US$ 1.5 billion worth of bananas and other fruits from the Philippines but we have not been able to fulfil the purchase commitment due to lack of supply. Russia is also interested to air freight fresh mangoes from Guimaras. Usec. Barba encouraged the Iloilo planters to diversify into highly lucrative crops such as cacao, mango, coffee and bananas to supply the export market. ‘Certainly there is demand and ready buyers for our agricultural products especially with the GSP plus status that we have with the European Union and the growing need for food imports in China,” Usec. Barba added.

Overall the FTSC Regional Visit yielded good results as it brought the agency closer to the local government and business sector of Iloilo. Both sides agreed to work closer on promoting Iloilo’s exportable products and investment potential.

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