Last month representatives from the Dubai Municipality of the" United Arab Emirates (UAE) visited the Philippines.
The visit was led by Mohammed Ahmed Abdulmajid, head of the Land Port Unit, and Mohammed, Essa Belal, senior food trade hygiene officer, of the said agency.
The visit, which took place from September 24 to 28, was part of the concerted efforts of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), led by the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) Dubai and the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) of the DTI to boost the acceptance of Philippine food consignments to Dubai. Both agencies implement campaigns and initiatives on the dissemination of relevant and updated UAE laws affecting the Philippine foodexport sector.
PTIC-Dubai, in particular, has also initiated coordination with the Dubai authorities on information regarding relevant Philippine foodregulatory agencies.' This include sample formats of health certificates to facilitate the Dubai government's verification submitted by UAE food importers as supporting documents for entry of Philippine products.
The two heads of the Dubai delegation were welcomed by DTI Undersecretary for Special Concerns Abdulgani M. Macatoman, EMB Director Senen M. Perlada, EMB Assistant Director Anthony B. Rivera, Foreign Trade Service Corps Executive Director Emmanuel W. Ang, Commercial Attache Eric C. Elnar, EMB Food and AgriMarine Division Chief Rose Marie G. Castillo, and representative from the EMB Halal Section AlMahdi I. JulAhmad at the DTI International Building in Makati.
In 2016, the Philippines exported 132,800 tons of food to Dubai. Of the 29,010 food items randomly checked by the Dubai Municipality, 5,874 food items or around 20 percent were rejected due to nonconformity to UAE's foodquality and safety requirements. These included label contraventions, certificate contraventions and laboratory sample results contraventions. It was also noted that, among the food exporting countries, the Philippines ranked 19th in the number of contraventions encountered in 2016.
To address this gap on contraventions with the Philippines and other countries, the Dubai Municipality launched a program, which is the Control of Food from the Source. Dubai Municipality defines the program as, "An activity carried out by government agencies or authorities to protect consumers and ensure the safety of all food during production, handling, storage, processing and distribution, ensuring their nutritional value and suitability for human consumption; and ensuring their conformity with quality and safety requirements."
Commercial Attache Charmaine Mignon S. Yalong for Middle East Asia and Africa stated that Dubai Municipality has identified the Philippines as one of the priority countries of the program. It shows how important the Philippines is as a food source and at the same time, the extent of the Philippine issues on contraventions.
Mr. Abdulmajid conveyed that, from among their priority counties, the Philippines was the first country they visited. He stressed the Dubai Municipality's assurance of support for the Philippines in terms of addressing these gaps with regard to food trade and thus, minimize, if not mitigate, the difficulties and obstacles facing the export of food.
Dubai Municipality also visited other government agencies, ports, and privatesector companies, such as the National Meat Inspection Services, Department of Science and TechnologyRegion 4A Halal Verification Laboratory, Food and Drug Administration, Philippine Ports AuthorityBatangas International Port, Intertek Testing Services Philippines Inc., SGS Philippines Inc., San Miguel Corp. and Universal Robina Corp.
On September 27, 2018, an information session on the standards and requirements of food exports to Dubai was conducted at DTI International Building in Makati where it was well attended by the food sector's stakeholders, such private companies and inspection, verification, testing and certification companies.
The Food Safety Department of the Dubai Municipality aims to establish a modern inspection system that meets the requirements of traders and international systems while ensuring the achievement of the government of Dubai's objective to be a city of excellence in terms of enhancing confidence in food safety.
To know more about the Dubai Municipality's program on Control of Food from the Source and other related information, their presentation can be accessed through this link: https://drive.google. com/file/d/ lAGFKRZlnpWPeAAOWxxEtStzh3X gOfRUT/view