Crafts handed through a generation of success.
Thirty-year-old Rami Hourani is a vibrant voice in community, possessing the wisdom to contribute to mature decision making.
The Cebu-based legal professional manages the business that his mother set up almost 40 years ago. The knowledge of the law he acquired is instrumental in his application of fair dealings with buyers and workers alike.
“Philippines has unique advantages, and we should use them. Know what you offer and believe that buyers like your products and work around it,” Rami expressed.
Possessing a good grip on the evolving dynamics of the home decor industry in the Philippines, he has taken steps to use it as benchmark to elevate their business to the next level of design and craftsmanship.
“The next generation of artisans has adopted other professions. So, we constantly explore new materials to create similar quality and maintain our design aesthetic that our company is known for.”
Art N’ Nature export journey
Twenty workers, mostly women, at Rami’s Art N’ Nature are employed to produce simple yet elegant home decoration items using indigenous materials, including seashells and coconut husk that instantly points to its Philippine origin.
These products that the company crafts are shipped to German and Dutch buyers, generating an annual revenue amounting to US$150,000 from the European Union (EU).
The market in Europe is conducive to home decors products such as those coming from Art N’ Nature.
Rami recalls that his mother during his younger years made it a point to participate in European trade shows as creativity is valued and respected in the region.
Over the years, the desire to continue exporting to the EU remains for obvious reasons.
“European buyers are collaborative, design-driven, and prefer innovative products,” Rami shared about their target market. “This is exactly our comparative advantage.
Availing the GSP+
The benefits of the EU Generalized System of Preference Plus (GSP+) scheme is also well-known to Rami.
“GSP+ enables to foster trade partnerships in Europe. It secures trade deals,” he said.
Goods from the Philippines become available to European buyers at affordable prices with zero tariff application thanks to the scheme.
“We obtained the REX registration number. And we enjoy the benefits of no tariffs imposed upon us through this scheme.”
The Registered Exporter system (the REX system) is a system of certification of the origin of goods based on a principle of self-certification for the EU. The origin of goods is declared by economic operators themselves by means of so-called statements on origin. To be entitled to make out a statement of origin, an economic operator must be registered in a database by the competent authorities. The economic operator then becomes a "registered exporter."
Government support paves the way
Participation in trade fairs with government support has been important part of Art N’ Nature’s successful exports to the EU.
The Centre for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) of the Philippine government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has proven to be a valuable partner especially in establishing the crucial links with buyers abroad.
“Exporters were selected and then provided subsidies for attending trade fairs. Each exhibitor was allowed a certain volume of products to be carried in the container that CITEM shipped for these fairs.”
In addition, CITEM provided design consultants to assist participating entrepreneurs in redefining designs that are attractive for the European market.
“DTI always has resources and tools to help out aspiring exporters,” Rami said, encouraging businesses to get in touch with the government for solutions to initiate exports.
Operating with empathy
Rami also wishes for other exporters what he wants for himself: a successful business.
It is his drive to support the community of exporters that sees him actively engaged with PHILEXPORT, a platform to boost exports. He regularly engages with government in helping formulate export friendly regulations.
This enables him to have the exporters heard, which is not only beneficial for exporters but also for Philippines international trade.
Rami sees a bright future for his business, with plans for innovation and focused product development aimed at creating more job opportunities for the community.
The ARISE Plus Philippines project is enabling Philippine exporters to take advantage of European Union (EU) market access and the trade privileges granted under the Generalized System of Preference (GSP+). It supports the overall EU-Philippines trade relationship and trade-related policies.
ARISE Plus Philippines is a project of the Government of the Philippines, with the Department of Trade and Industry as lead partner together with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Bureau of Customs, the Department of Science and Technology, as well as the private sector. It is funded by the EU with the International Trade Centre (ITC) as the technical agency for the project.