THE Philippines is seeking to expand the reach of its products in the Middle East, the Trade department said on Friday.

In a statement, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Middle East and Africa is currently mounting an outbound business matching mission (OBMM) in the Middle East between Feb. 12 and 24.

“The OBMM is in conjunction with Gulfood 2020 in Dubai World Trade Centre,” the DTI said. “Gulfood is the world’s largest annual food, beverage, and hospitality exhibition which attracts F&B professionals from all over the world to Dubai.”

The mission aims to help the food sector diversify its markets.

“The featured products for this mission are food items, sauces, spices, mixes, and condiments as well as cargo and logistics,” the Trade department said.

Philippine companies participating in the mission are Fitrite, Inc; Fruits of Life, Inc; HDR Foods Corp; Jocker’s Food Industries; Magic Melt Food, Inc; Marigold Manufacturing Corp; Marikina Food Corp; Pinesvill Trading FZE LTE; Pixcel Transglobal; Sagrex Food, and LBC.

DTI-Trade Promotions Group (TPG) Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman said: “We hope that through this OBMM, the Philippines will be able to explore the business environment and possible prospects in the Middle East markets and sustain networking and follow-up activities in the UAE as part of the mission legs last 2019.”

DTI-Export Marketing Bureau Director Senen M. Perlada said Philippine exporters will be meeting with prospective partners or buyers in the Middle East.

The engagement, Mr. Perlada said, will give Philippine exporters knowledge of the market requirements “in terms of volume, quality, and price.”

The DTI estimates that the Philippines exported a total of $720.1 million worth of goods to the Middle East in the 11 months to to November.

Goods imported from the Middle East during the period amounted to$3.3 billion.

“Among the top products exported by the country were bananas, including plantains, fresh or dried ($211.9 million), input or output units, whether or not containing storage units in the same housing ($64 million), other bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other baker’s wares, whether or not containing cocoa ($41.3 million), pineapples, fresh or dried ($38.1million), and video projectors ($22.1 million),” the department said.

The Philippines’ top imported products from the Middle East were “petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude ($2.1 billion), light petroleum oils and preparations thereof ($225.9 million), propane, liquified ($126.6 million), butanes, liquified ($120.9 million), and aeroplanes and other aircraft, of an unladen weight not exceeding 2,000 kg ($72.7 million).” — Arjay L. Balinbin