Go on the offensive
Exporters urged to move to sustain gains of sector’s strong January 2017 performance
Local export leaders are encouraging traders in the industry to to take advantage of the sector’s performance and go on an offensive marketing campaign.
Federico Escalona, executive director of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) in Cebu, said exporters should move to sustain gains amid the strong January 2017 performance of the export sector.
He encouraged exporters to improve the quality of their products and the reliability of their suppliers.
“Since the sector is driven by international demand, we have to make sure they buy from us,” he said.
Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last week showed that merchandise exports jumped 22.5 percent year-on-year to $5.13 billion in January this year, reversing the 3.9-percent decline during the same period in 2016.
State planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), meanwhile, attributed this growth to recovering global economic prospects.
This was the first time exports posted double-digit growth in over three years, the last time being in November 2014 at 19.7 percent, and was also the industry’s best performance since December 2013 when it grew 24.9 percent.
Moreover, this was the second time in a row that exports grew after months of decline. According to revised PSA data, export of goods moved up 6.3 percent in December last year, higher than the preliminary report of 4.5 percent.
Apolinar Suarez Jr., Philexport Cebu chairman, for his part, said the latest industry development is a signal for an offensive campaign from exporters.
He said it is important for local players to continue making themselves known to their markets as well as to maintain relations with their buyers.
This, he said, could be achieved by joining trade fairs or roadshows to attract diversified markets.
Suarez said that if industry performance in January would become a precedent for the rest of the year, he would definitely welcome the idea.
“The major markets are recovering and if this is sustained, there is no other way but for our exports to be strengthened,” he said.
Escalona agreed as he said that country branding is also crucial to sustain export growth and that stakeholders should work together to make the Philippines an attractive purchasing target.
While Escalona admitted that US protectionist policies and negative media exposure might hamper the growth of exports in the country, government initiatives to explore other markets are among the ways to address this problem.
“Market and product diversification is necessary to stay one step ahead in the market. I am sure export losers all over the world are also recovering now,” he said.
The PSA data also showed that imports rose 9.1 percent year-on-year to $7.44 billion, albeit slower than the 20.5-percent increase in the same month last year.
As such, two-way trade at the start of the year grew 14.2 percent to $12.6 billion, Neda noted in a statement.
Escalona expressed optimism on the export industry’s performance this year amid the positive January data.
“If figures in February and March are good, then we can say 2017 will be a good year,” he said.
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