THURSDAY, 5 DECEMBER 2019, KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has concluded a mission to explore Davao recently in an effort to strengthen Malaysian companies’ footprint in the Philippines – one of its closest ASEAN trading partners.
Davao City is a highly-urbanised city located in the Southern Philippines and serves as the gateway for the entire Mindanao island. The city also serves as the entry point for Brunei Darussalam - Indonesia - Malaysia - Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) – an initiative launched in 1994.
The mission called Export Acceleration Mission or the EAM that took place in November 2019 saw the 33 Malaysian companies that took part in the event generated over RM72 million in export value for their business. The products and services sought after included Food & Beverages, Personal Care, ICT, Logistics and Building Materials.
According to MATRADE’s Trade Commissioner in Manila, Siti Azlina Mohd Ali Hanafiah, Davao is the second largest growing economy in the Philippines in 2018 and also the 5th biggest economy in the country. This indicates a growing potential for businesses in Malaysia. “Davao offers an attractive alternative to the overcrowded Manila and Cebu. With President Duterte’s “Mindanao First” policy, more countries are exploring this region’s potential to seek investment partners. Through investments, various export opportunities for Malaysian companies can be created,” she said.
Among the opportunities available in Davao City are in sectors such as agribusiness, tourism-related facilities, infrastructure, real estate, halal and tourism. In addition, Information Technology and BPOs (business-process outsourcing) also showed some prospects.
“The Philippines is a dynamic market and remains attractive for Malaysian companies as it has a population of about 109 million people. Davao alone has a population of over 1.6 million and can serve as a strategic entry point for Malaysia,” Siti Azlina shared.
During the EAM, MATRADE has organised activities such as business meetings with Filipino buyers and importers, networking session, seminar and roundtable discussion on Doing Business in the Philippines and investment opportunities as well as briefing on product registration procedures by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines.
Malaysia as a member of ASEAN is pushing for greater intra-ASEAN trade and Philippines is one of the promising markets for Malaysian exporters to tap into. With the materialisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), an increasing number of regional integration initiatives have been carried out, which have contributed to the liberalisation and development of the ASEAN economies.
In 2018, Malaysia’s total trade with the Philippines increased by 2.1 per cent to reach RM26.04 billion from RM25.50 billion recorded in 2017. Total exports increased by 2.0 per cent to RM16.85 billion from RM16.52 billion while imports were up by 2.3 per cent to RM9.19 billion from RM8.98 billion.
Malaysia’s export to Philippines consisted largely of electrical & electronic products, palm oil & palm-based agriculture products, chemicals & chemical products, petroleum products and machinery, equipment & parts, while Malaysia’s import from Philippines consisted mainly of electrical & electronic products, machinery, equipment and parts, processed food, natural rubber and chemicals & chemical products.