Exporters still struggling to penetrate China market
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - January 16, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Penetrating China as a potential market for Philippine marine products remains a struggle for exporters.

Nelson Bascones, who owns Central Seafoods Inc., said the potential is good but there are a lot of trade barriers that need to be fixed by both governments (China and the Philippines), along with other issues.

Seaweed industry for instance is having difficulties in turning China as a market as it is the country’s main rival in terms of carrageenan products.

"China emerged as the most aggressive carrageenan world market competitor even underpricing traditional carrageenan suppliers," said Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP) president Max Ricohermoso.

Bascones, who is also the past president of Philexport-Cebu said that aside from trade barriers, exporters mostly are still trying to adjust to the different ways of doing business in China.

The market is huge and fertile too but there are still dozens of concerns that exporters have to study diligently to finally penetrate the Chinese market.

As of now, China is still largely a competitor rather than a market. Exporters however are optimistic that they can turn the plate around, and make it as a major consumer of marine and fruit products from the Philippines.

Cebu is supplying frozen squids and fishes, Bascones said although there is also growing orders for other types of agricultural processed food.

But the Philippines is yet to scratch the bottom of the real demand from China. Regulations, strange business culture, and other issues, have to be resolved.

Thus, exporters are urged to put their attention and extra efforts to learn the Chinese way of doing business to capture this huge market.

Recently, Export Development Council (EDC) Visayas representative Alan Suarez stated similar concerns, saying Filipino exporters are still having difficulties in penetrating or even entering good deals with Chinese traders.

"Most Filipino exporters are very careful in dealing with the Chinese. They have different ways of doing business. We, on the other hand are used to dealing with western traders," said Suarez.

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