PH exporters urged to tap Islamic world, GCC countries


Filipino exporters are encouraged to tap opportunities offered by alternative markets aside from the ones they are currently serving, particularly the Islamic world and six Middle Eastern countries that are home to millions of Filipinos.  

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) consists of 57 (member) countries and actually some of these countries are among the richest in the world right now and (have) more than enough purchasing power to buy goods anywhere in the world,” Alex Bangcola, chairman and chief executive officer of Amanah Islamic Bank, said during the Usapang Exports session organized by the Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau

Bangcola said the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) hosting over 5 million Filipinos are already primarily markets for local exporters.   

GCC members consist of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.  

“But beyond the Filipinos, the citizens of these countries themselves are markets for Philippine products,” he said. “There is a wide, wide world out there and Philippine products are in demand in a lot of countries.”

To penetrate the OIC market, Bangcola advised exporters to know its import requirements, select their target country or countries, identify possible buyers, contact interested companies, understand the logistics of shipping their products, and secure purchase orders.   

“As a first step, look at the important ones and if some of the products being imported by these countries are products that you yourselves can supply, then it’s a good start,” he said.

Bangcola said that before exporting to any of these OIC member countries, they have to research their specific import requirement, which might include regulations, certifications and documentation needed for products to enter their markets.

“Consider which OIC countries align with your product offerings and business goals. Factors to consider include market size, cultural fit, and economic stability. Choose wisely based on your resources and market research,” he added.

To reach out to potential buyers in target OIC countries, Bangcola said Philippine embassies in those countries and local chambers of commerce can provide valuable information about local businesses interested in exporters’ products.

“And then we have our own in the Philippines. The PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry) is another source of information,” he said.

Bangcola said that once potential buyers have been identified, exporters can write or email them, introduce their products, highlight their benefits and explain how they meet the needs of the local market.    

“Be professional and persuasive in your communication,” he said.“Of course be aware that you are not alone, you do have competition not only in the Philippines but in some other countries as well.”

Bangcola said exporters then consider transportation options (air, sea, land), shipping costs and delivery times, adding that “Efficient shipping arrangements are crucial for successful exports.”

He said when a buyer expresses interest, they can negotiate and secure purchase orders which are formal agreements specifying the quantity, price and delivery terms.

“Encourage your buyers to open Letters of Credit (LCs) with local Islamic banks. An LC is a financial guarantee that ensures payment upon successful delivery of goods. Amanah Islamic Bank can serve as the receiving and/or negotiating bank for these transactions,” he added.

Bangcola said Amanah Islamic Bank provides various banking products and financing services which any Filipino can avail of. 

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