The Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Tokyo, in cooperation with PTIC-Osaka, the ASEAN Japan Centre, and with support from the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), and the Export Management Bureau (EMB) implemented a special supplemental program for around 62 Japanese buyers who qualified under the March 2014 Manila FAME Special Buyers Program.

This supplemental program involved the development and introduction of a series of activities, on the sidelines of the Manila FAME March 2014 edition, that included business presentations by Philippine social enterprises and suppliers not often seen in regular international trade fair circuits.

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Manila FAME delegates who joined the Supplemental Program for Japanese Buyers arranged by PTIC-Japan and the ASEAN-Japan Centre, were treated to an early-morning exclusive tour of the KULTURA Specialty Store at the Mall of Asia last March 15. Photo above shows some Japanese buyers inquiring about some products featured at the store, while photo below shows the Supplemental Program Japanese delegates being welcomed upon their arrival by a special cultural program arranged for them by KULTURA.

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These included Rags2 Riches, a social enterprise that creates fashion and home accessories primarily by working with artisans from poor communities around the archipelago; and Community Crafts Association of the Philippines (CCAP), a foundation that assists community-based producers of handicrafts nationwide, and provides product development and global market access to these producers using the principles of fair trade.

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Japanese importers check out some of the items on display at the office of the Community Crafts Association of the Philippines

The new approach to enhancing Japanese participation in Manila FAME was precipitated by recurrent Japanese buyer feedback on two issues: while Manila FAME consistently offers one of the best designed products in the region, in terms of scale (product coverage and number of exhibitors), the fair only manages to scale up to 1/4th of those available in similar trade fairs in the region.

To address both this limitation and at the same time capitalize on our reported design advantage, PTIC-Tokyo decided to experiment on a fresh template for its Manila FAME promotional and buyer recruitment campaign. This would involve the development and introduction of a program that will target new Japanese buyers and reinforce brand loyalty among the regulars.

The program met two objectives: first, provide additional venues that showcase a diverse array of Philippine products crafted from natural fibers and ecologically sound materials and second, provide compelling reasons for buyers and sellers to engage in fair and sustainable trade.

Through this program, the following were achieved:
      1. Deployment of 43 Buyers from Tokyo and 19 from Osaka, for a total Japanese buyers' delegation numbering 62, to date, the largest Japanese contingent to date to a Manila FAME supplemental program;
      2. The special buyers’ program drew the participation of 29 buyers - 21 from Tokyo and 8 from Osaka;
      3. Spot and sales under negotiation for Philippine social enterprises, valued at PHP 4 Million;
      4. Potential partnerships with OISCA on in-house production and design services for OISCA’S Bacolod-based silk farm;
      5. Prospective tie-up between Japan’s Kanaka Trading and Amako Crafts on crafts and souvenirs made of bamboo and carabao horn;
      6. Concrete proof that despite initial setbacks, DTI’s forays into social enterprise support, fair trade and compliance with internationally set environment protection standards, are feasible and profitable.