The Philippines continued to strengthen foreign export and trade relations as it brought local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center at the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) 2023 held in Nanning, China from September 16 to 19, 2023.

The Philippine delegation was led by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). A mix of exhibitors, including food and beverage manufacturers, home and lifestyle enterprises, and banking and travel companies, carried the country’s banner at the China-based expo.

A welcome highlight to this year’s Philippine participation in CAEXPO was the introduction of Tuguegarao City as the country’s esteemed “City of Charm.” The city opened its doors to various investment ventures and potential partnerships with national government agencies and direct foreign investment. The city is focused on generating growth in its priority sectors, such as agriculture and agribusiness, tourism and hospitality, healthcare and medical services, education and research, and manufacturing and logistics.

The CAEXPO 2023 Philippine participants readily capitalized on the unique identity and quality of their product offerings. Eng Seng Food Products, priding itself as the first exporter of durian, continued to gain popularity in China with its durian sales, and other products such as fresh young coconut, and fresh frozen coconut meat and water. With the ever-growing demand for healthy natural ingredients in many of today’s consumer digests, local exhibitors Brics Ventures brought a wide range of turmeric-based drinks; while a visit to Soyuz Foods International Inc. offered calamansi concoctions. Meanwhile, visitors found OneAsia Trader and Raspina Tropical Fruits Inc. with their crop and fruit-based buffet of condiments, ingredients, and snacks consisting of (dried/frozen) banana, coconut, durian, and pineapple among others. Seafood was also available courtesy of Dataj Aquafarm, Inc.’s fresh and frozen shrimp packs.

Some of the product offerings at this year’s CAEXPO include (l-r): Frozen fresh cooked/frozen white shrimp from Dataj Aquafarm, Inc., vacuum-packed frozen durian from Eng Seng Food Products, calamansi cider vinegar from Soyuz Foods International, Inc., and Turmeric Brew powder drink from Brics Ventures.

CITEM Executive Director Amb. Edward L. Fereira, Ph.D underscored the long-term benefits to local companies as a result of this international exposure to export and investment opportunities. He is confident that the Philippines stands to further fortify its remarkable history and trade relations with China by promoting itself as a reliable sourcing destination of quality commodities through the marketing efforts of local exhibitors at the event.

A total of 15 exhibitors were on hand for the four-day event, featuring products and services in the following categories:

Brics Ventures, Dataj Aquafarm Inc., Enature Energy Drinks Philippines Inc., Eng Seng Food Products, Lighthouse Cooperative, OneAsia Trader, Raspina Tropical Fruits Inc., Soyuz Foods International Inc., and 22 Propack Asia Corporation

Kitsilver and Santa Praxedes Sarakat Women Weavers Association

Bebebalm, Inc.
Jegen S.W.E. Enterprises

BDO Unibank Inc. and R&V Fly Global Travel and Tours

The Philippine National Pavilion was located at Zone B2. The Commodity Pavilion was located at Exhibition Hall Zone D, booth numbers: 7129-7138 and 7151-7160 of the Nanning International Exhibition and Convention Center (NIECC).

The CAEXPO has been diligent in bolstering the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), furthering cooperative efforts in trade, investment, tourism, and diplomatic relations between ASEAN and China. Now on its 20th year, the CAEXPO theme of “Work together for a harmonious home and a shared future – promoting high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and nurturing new epicenter of growth” reflects this thrust.

According to Fereira, the Philippines is committed to sustaining its positive track in the regional trade and investment sector. At last year’s CAEXPO, the country garnered three awards for its outstanding representation and participation – Best Trade Visitor Award, Best Promotion on Investment Cooperation, and Best Organizer for Online CAEXPO.

This year’s engagement was also made possible in partnership with lead investment promotion agency Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). PEZA is focused on stimulating capacity-building projects in seven priority sectors: Advanced Manufacturing; Green Ores processing; Agriculture and Blue Industries; IT services and frontier technologies; Eco-industrial park development; Science, Technology, and Innovation; and Integration of SMEs in the ecozone value chain.

The CAEXPO 2023 marked the first physical attendance since 2019 of the delegation from the Philippines.