Freeman Cebu Business

Cebu businesses urged to tap huge EU market

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The government of Switzerland is urging Cebuano traders to take advantage of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to tap the huge consumer base in the entire European continent.

In a lunch briefing hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP-Cebu), Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen said while there has been availment of tax-free perks by Filipino exporters, including Cebu, it is still underutilized.

According to the Ambassador, Switzerland could be the entry point for exporters to tap the entire European market, especially for products that have great sustainability stories or are produced by social enterprises.

As of 2021, top Philippine exports to EFTA states include minerals (gold, copper), static converters, electronic integrated circuits, vacuum cleaners, crude coconut oil, desiccated coconuts, preserved fruits, and tropical fruit juices.

In his presentation to exporters and members of the ECCP-Cebu Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines commercial attaché Kent Marjun Primor with 10.7 percent utilization rate of Filipino exporters of EFTA, there is a huge opportunity for exporters to grow their export business by tapping the European market.

Aside from the usual and top merchandizes that are currently exported to Europe via Switzerland or other countries under EFTA, Cebu exporters for instance could improve their export portfolio to include fiber and textile (silk products, abaca, banana fibers, pineapple fibers; furniture, and processed food (dried fruits, frozen fruits, and vegetables, muscovado sugar);  natural ingredients (coconut oil, calamansi extracts, carrageenan, moringa, turmeric); industrial products, and services like financial technologies, digital health services, payment processing, and warehousing.

While there is a good chance for Pinoy brands to enter Europe using tax-free, there is also a need for the Philippines to improve its promotion to Switzerland specifically as the Swiss are not aware of the Philippines.

“Swiss are not aware that the Philippines exists. Awareness is the key,” Primor said.

On the other hand, Gaschen mentioned the move of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in promoting the image of the Philippines to the global arena, saying it’s a good start to make the Philippines known to other countries, especially in Europe.

EFTA is a regional trade organization and free trade area consisting of four European states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

The key aspect of the Philippine-EFTA free trade agreement is duty-free access to the member countries including Switzerland, especially for the fishery, and agricultural products with liberal export requirements.

Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-7) regional director Nanette Arbon in her presentation revealed that there are also challenges faced by Filipino agricultural exports, such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS), technical barriers to trade (TBT, like rules of origin, testing or certification procedures, packaging, self-life restrictions, labeling requirements), production capacity, addressing issues on pests and diseases, and value-adding and diversification of products—using research and development to create diversity in product offerings.


vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with