THE PHILIPPINES is moving to expand the reach of its products, setting its sights on Africa, South Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, the Department of Trade and Industry said in a statement on Thursday.

The government has been setting outbound business matching missions (OBMM) with countries where it has spotted trade potentials.

The department said it recently concluded an OBMM in Mexico and is scheduling more sessions in India, Bangladesh, Russia, Egypt and Ethiopia.

“These markets were chosen based on the country’s economic growth, gross domestic product per capita, population, ease of doing business, political climate, and the Philippines’ trade and foreign policy directives,” it said.

At a March 5-7 trade fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, the department said Filipino exporters got the chance to introduce local products to the biggest trade show in that country.

The department noted that Mexico has the biggest consumer potential in Latin America, as its food and beverage consumption is projected to grow by 15% next year.

In a separate statement, the department said it organized one-on-one meetings for 15 Philippine exporters with an Argentinian businessmen earlier this month.

Aside from Mexico, business matching missions are also under way in Mumbai, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh which will run until Sept. 4.

The Philippines’ bilateral trade with India was worth $2.28 billion last year, making the regional giant the Philippines’ 15th trading partner, 16th export market and 14th import supplier. The Philippines had a $1.2-billion trade deficit with India, hence, “it is beneficial to boost exports in India’s growing market,” the department said in its statement.

Bangladesh was the Philippines’ 56th trading partner, 62nd export market and 50th import supplier last year. The Philippines exported $20.3 million to and imported $38.9 million from the South Asian country last year.

For next quarter, the department said it has lined up business matching missions in Ethiopia and Egypt, as well as trade missions to South Africa, Mozambique and other key African markets.

Philippine Statistics Authority data showed merchandise export sales contracting by 0.82% to $34.113 billion last semester from $34.397 billion a year ago, and import bill dropping by 0.959% to $53.117 billion from $53.632 billion in the same periods. — Denise A. Valdez