THE PHILIPPINE delegation to a trade show in China is targeting $160 million in export deals this year, which would represent a drastic downgrade compared with the year-earlier result after a reduction in the size of its pavilion.

The 40 Philippine food companies are planning to reach 1,300 buyers at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai which ends Nov. 10, the Trade department’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) said in a statement Thursday.

Last year, the Philippine delegation generated $300 million at the same event.

The top sellers of the 2019 Philippine delegation of 139 exhibitors, including 32 food vendors, were fresh bananas, pineapples, mangoes and durian along with processed fruits and nuts and coconut products. The exhibition space of more than 240,000 square meters attracted buyers from more than 100 countries.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the trade show will reflect restrictions to doing business imposed by the pandemic.

“This year is a pandemic year. This is a hybrid show this year, where the goods are displayed but negotiations are done via the online B2B facility,” he said in a mobile message.

“The target is also based on the reduced pavilion size this year, as well as the projected decrease in the number of buyers attending CIIE this year.”

The food companies in this year’s delegation are selling tropical fruit, vegetables, and health-oriented snacks.

The delegation held an online business matching session with 40 Chinese buyers on Oct. 29, generating leads for fresh fruit and vegetables, chocolate, healthy snacks, seafood, beverages, and condiments.

The Philippine pavilion this year will include interactive conference pods for virtual business activities and conferencing.

Commercial counsellors will represent the government, helping promote products and relay information, instead of the exhibitors themselves.

“For this hybrid participation, there will be a mix of physical product presentation in the pavilion that will be facilitated by onsite officers from our trade posts in China and online B2B (business to business) matching activities between our companies in Manila and the Chinese buyers who will visit our booth in Shanghai,” CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan said. — Jenina P. Ibañez