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UAE still attractive market for PH goods

The United Arab Emirates remains an attractive market for Philippine produce and goods as food exports to the Middle East country remained steady in 2020 amid the pandemic, the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Dubai said.

PTIC-Dubai commercial attaché Charmaine Yalong said there is an increasing demand for Filipino food products in the UAE with the large presence of Filipinos in the country, while Filipino brands are also being put in the mainstream markets.

Yalong added there is also a rising number of Filipino restaurants in malls and city centers in UAE as more Filipino franchisors and Middle East franchisees cater to the demand for Filipino food products.

“(A)side from gratifying the cravings of our kababayans for native Philippine products, the cosmopolitan tastes of locals and expatriates in the UAE are now being catered to as well. A wide range of these products are now available side-by-side with other products from Asia, Europe and the United States in the shelves of supermarkets here in the UAE,” she said.

From January to June 2020 alone, Yalong said food exports to the UAE sustained its growth.

Processed food and beverage exports amounted to $10.86 million, exports of pineapple and its byproducts reached $14.02 million, fresh bananas amounted to $12.9 million, tuna exports valued at $3.3 million, and fresh and processed fish at $590,000.

“The continued support to Philippine exporters, through trade referrals and organization of Philippine participations in trade exhibitions and outbound business missions, contributed to the increasing presence of Philippine products in the UAE,” she said.

The demand for Filipino produce and goods can also be seen in the cargo flights of Cebu Pacific, as 29 percent of the total fruit exports it carried from January to September last year were delivered to Dubai, the Department of Trade and Industry said.

The UAE is only next to Hong Kong where the Philippine carrier delivered 55 percent of fruit exports in the same period.

When travel restrictions eased, Cebu Pacific conducted 12 cargo flights between Manila and Dubai in the second and third quarters of 2020, delivering food exports.

This number, however, shrank from 75 cargo flights on the same route in the first quarter of last year alone.