With Philippine exports growing by 10 percent for the first nine months of the year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand their foothold in the global market.

“While current programs and projects in promoting the country’s exports and assisting our existing exporters have contributed to this year’s remarkable export performance, we will explore even better ways to promote exports,” DTI Undersecretary Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr. said.

This year’s export promotion efforts mainly included outbound and inbound business matching activities; participation in trade fairs in the country or abroad; a nationwide campaign to inform exporters of the opportunities in foreign markets covered by free-trade agreements (FTAs) entered into by the Philippines; and information sessions to keep exporters and potential exporters abreast on foreign market access requirements.

“In preparation for next year’s export promotion strategies, the DTI will converge its trade service officers who are assigned in various commercial posts abroad for them to share strategic market information and specific opportunities to the country’s SMEs,” Manalo said.

He added that SMEs can consult with trade service officers for them to develop and broaden their presence in foreign markets. Consultations with the officers will be held in this year’s National Export Congress on December 5 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

With the theme “Integrating SMEs to the global value chains”, the congress aims to encourage SMEs to take part in the country’s improving export performance.

“This year’s congress also intends to provide recognition to the top exporters of the country. This way, we encourage leading exporters to contribute further, and inspire budding exporters to add in the country’s growing export performance,” Manalo said.

For the first nine months of this year, total Philippine merchandise exports grew 9.9 percent to US$46.6 billion from US$42.39 billion in the same period last year. Exports also grew by 15.7 percent year-on-year (YOY) in September 2014.

Manalo noted that Japan regained its position as the top destination of Philippine merchandise exports during the first nine months of the year and bought almost 23 percent of the country’s total exports or US$10.66 billion.

“Even with this positive development, the Philippines will further improve our economic relations with Japan as we welcome a high-level business delegation from Japan early next year. This is alongside our long-term market and product strategies to increase exports to Japan as we benefit from our bilateral economic partnership agreement,” Manalo said.

Manalo said that aside from Japan, DTI will also continue to focus on high impact markets such as Korea and Taiwan. At the same time, it will consider traditional markets such as the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France as well as emerging markets like Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe.

The second top country destination of Philippine exports was the US, which bought US$6.578 billion worth of Philippine merchandise from January to September 2014. The US was closely followed by combined markets of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) and Hong Kong SAR with US$6.198 billion worth of Philippine merchandise. The top 10 country buyers of Philippine exports bought US$39.576 billion worth of products or 84.9 percent of total exports for the same period.

“Although a large chunk of our total merchandise export is still composed of electronic products, it is important to note that the current growth was buoyed by non-electronic products, which are produced by our SMEs,” Manalo said.

From January to September 2014, non-electronic products totalled US$27.87 billion or 59.8 percent of total exports, up by 12.56 percent from the US$24.76 billion in the same period last year. Likewise, the export of electronic products, amounting to US$18.73 billion or 40.2 percent of total exports, increased by 6.2 percent from US$17.63 billion in the same period last year. (END)