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FTAs propel coconut exports growth

Manila Bulletin, Philippines

FTAs propel coconut exports growth

28 July 2011

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine coconut industry is optimistic that coconut exports are bound to grow further in markets where the Philippines has free trade agreements (FTAs) with, the industry association said.

According to the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP), a confederation of associations and organizations involved in the various activities of the Philippine coconut industry, exports of coconut products have been consistently rising with an average growth rate of 8% over the period of 2007-2010.

In 2010, total exports of coconut reached $1.5 billion and accounted for 20 percent world market share, the highest among key sectors identified in the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP).

Yvonne T. Agustin, UCAP executive director, attributed the growth in exports to the elimination of tariffs in markets where the country has free trade deals.

“This has helped further boost the market access of low-to-medium moving coconut products,” Agustin said.

These FTAs have leveled the playing field for Filipino exporters with our neighboring countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, said Marco C. Reyes, group product manager of HanCole Industries, Ltd., a company that exports vegetable oils, surfactants, oleo-chemical derivatives and other derivatives from coconut to Japan, China, Australia, Europe and North America.

Undersecretary for International Trade Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. also noted that eporters are now taking advantage of preferential trade agreements to diversify their markets and lower cost of business.

In 2010, three-fourths of Philippine coconut exports revenue went to markets where the Philippines has free trade agreements with, namely ASEAN, China, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

In the first quarter of 2011, the Philippine coconut shell charcoal exports to Japan has already accounted for 60.7 percent of total market share while total glycerin exports accounted for 69.8 percent, both figures based on volume. This is a remarkable increase over 2010’s total market share in Japan of 57.5 percent and 56.8 percent respectively.

The same growth trends are also apparent for the volume of oleo-chemicals in markets such as China (from 31.5 percent in 2010 to 39.6 percent in the Q1 of 2011) and Korea (from 4.3 percent to 12.4 percent for the same period).