THE lifting of Qatar’s ban on Philippine chilled seafood will open up export opportunities all over the Middle East, the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) said.
“As an exporter we are very glad (that it was lifted) because when we are banned in a country, somehow, it affects other countries also,” Philexport President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said in a phone interview.
“The lifting of the ban will not only provide opportunities in Qatar but also in other countries which hesitated because of the ban,” he added.
In an advisory, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar announced the lifting of its temporary ban on chilled seafood from the Philippines starting Nov. 15.
The chilled seafood products covered by the ban include fish, shrimp, squid, mussels, and oysters, the DTI said.
However, the Ministry still requires the submission of a certificate of conformity issued by third-party inspectors at the country of origin before the products are shipped for export.
“Philippine seafood exporters will now be able to resume exports to Qatar. However, they need to submit third-party certifications,” DTI Export Marketing Bureau Director Bianca Pearl R. Sykimte said in a Viber message.
She added that exporters have expressed concern over the additional cost of certification.
There are four authorized third-party inspectors that can issue certificates of conformity, three of which have a presence in the Philippines — TÜV NORD Philippines, TÜV Rheinland Philippines, and Intertek Testing Services Philippines, Inc.
Mr. Ortiz-Luis said that the Philippine industry considers the Middle East a large halal market.
He said any impact on export numbers will depend on when orders are placed.
“It may reflect this year if orders immediately come in, but if there is a need for certification, I think this will start to reflect next year,” he added.
The temporary ban was imposed in November as a precaution against contamination from Vibrio cholerae bacteria. The ban on frozen seafood products was lifted in February.
In 2022, bilateral trade between the Philippines and Qatar amounted to 979 million Qatari Riyal, according to the Qatar chamber of commerce. — Justine Irish D. Tabile