Freeman Cebu Business

Cebuano businesses urged to explore prospects abroad

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — At least four Filipino diplomats urged the Cebu business community to start exploring opportunities abroad, specifically in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Gulf Cooperation Council Region, as well as the American region.

In a Cebu leg of the Economic Diplomacy townhall meeting hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA-Cebu) held at the Cebu Provincial Capital social hall, Ambassadors Grace T. Cruz-Fabella of the Embassy of the Philippines in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pedro R. Laylo Jr., of the Embassy of the Philippines in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Medardo Antonio G. Macaraig of the Embassy of the Philippines in Singapore, and Alfonso Ferdinand A. Ver, of the Embassy of the Philippines in Abu Dhabi, presented the perspective of trade and commerce in their respective countries and region.

“Please take a different look at the Middle East [as a market and trade partner],” Ambassador Ver told Cebuano business leaders and prime movers, adding that aside from the growing number of Filipinos working in the region, it is also awash of money with fertile opportunities for business.

There is also a huge potential for Cebu businesses to explore good markets and business tie-ups in the South American region, noted Fabella, explaining that despite its good potential, the Philippines, and countries under the region like Argentina are not strongly connected despite its 75 years of trade relations.

At present, the Philippines and Argentina have minimal trade exchanges. But this can be improved dramatically with active promotions of the Philippines to the Southern American region, especially in Argentina.

According to Fabella, the Philippines, including Cebuano businessmen could exploit the opportunities in South America with the correct balance of “what we can offer and we are interested in [those countries under the region].”

“We are not on their radar, as well as they are not on our radar. But this creates a good challenge and opportunity to strengthen and encourage closer relations,” she said.

Ambassador Laylo also expressed confidence in Israel’s potential to become one of the biggest markets for Cebuano businesses, especially in tourism, as well as a good partner for cutting-edge technology, manufacturing, electronics, and outsourcing, among others.

“I’m gonna go there [Israel] as a salesman,” Laylo said highlighting his commitment to helping Filipino businesses, including Cebuano businessmen, gain stronger ground in the middle eastern region, starting with the state of Israel.

In the United Arab of Emirates (UAE), Ver stressed the opportunities of the Philippines to bring talents to the region fueling the need for new emerging industries. Qatar for instance is awash with “petro-dollars” which is something that both Filipino talents and businessmen could exploit.

Although Singapore and the Philippines practically trade in the same category, the big opportunity for both countries to capitalize on the global market is to work together as part of the ASEAN bloc.

Meanwhile, businessmen in Cebu led by the two largest Chambers of commerce and industry—Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) expressed interest in stronger collaboration with these regions.

MCCI president Kelie Co said that while there are those opportunities, “we need more information on what the foreign markets are requiring.”

During the dialogue, the four diplomats were also shown the opportunities and jewels of Cebu as a market and an investment hub, presented by Ko, together with the CCCI president Charles Kenneth Co, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-7), and the Department of Tourism (DOT-7).

The economic diplomacy tour of Cebu for 35 (thirty-five) Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (AEPs) appointed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs - Office for International and Economic Relations’ (DFA-OIER), in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs in Cebu (DFA Cebu).

As AEPs, primordial in their duties, among others, is to promote tourism and invite trade and investments in the Philippines. Included in the itinerary of AEPs economic diplomacy tours are visits to select business establishments in Cebu and the town hall meeting which aims to intensify economic promotion activities for trade, investment, tourism, and services in the country.


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