The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) is set to strengthen its efforts in promoting Philippine companies in the global market under its newly appointed Executive Director, Clayton Tugonon.
“CITEM will be more aggressive in its promotional efforts in positioning the Philippines as a global destination for quality export products and services as we continue to maintain the highest standards of creativity, excellence, and innovation,” said Tugonon.
“CITEM recognizes the vital role of MSMEs in building the Philippine brand globally. We are also aware that they need support so they can compete in international and local markets. It is important that we uplift small-scale businesses so that they will receive the same opportunities as other established corporations,” he added.
Tugonon will lead CITEM in organizing the 65th edition of Manila FAME on April 21-23, and the 11th edition of the International Food Exhibition (IFEX) Philippines, which are both held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila (WTCMM) and Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).
“Ensuring the success of these two shows will be critical in supporting the government’s strategy for inclusive growth since the food and design-oriented furniture and garments industry are two of the 12 top priority sectors identified as priority development areas in generating quality employment and higher income opportunities,” explained Tugonon, saying that it will lead “to poverty alleviation and better quality of life for Filipinos.”
The new Executive Director seeks to intensify the creative collaborations between local micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), exporters, designers, and manufacturers in CITEM’s signature events and overseas participation.
Tugonon also said that he will be talking to the exhibitors at the shows to encourage them to improve their products, with emphasis on “innovation and transfiguration.”
He intends to capitalize on the export coaching programs instituted by CITEM to bolster the export-readiness of Philippine companies and manufacturers. The DTI sub-agency will hire experts as consultants to advice on MSMEs on the pricing and design of their products, he added.
Tugonon vowed to institute reforms and streamline CITEM’s operations, as well as institute cost-cutting logistic measures, to effectively use the agency’s fund for promotional efforts.
Before his appointment to CITEM, Tugonon traveled across the Philippines to encourage more local companies and stakeholders to participate in CITEM’s key events and international exhibits.
Tugonon is the first CITEM Executive Director hailing from the Visayas since the sub-agency was established on 1983. He is a graduate of Bachelor of Science, major in Biology, and an alumnus of the San Carlos College of Law in Cebu.
Before his appointment, he became known as a businessman for the family-owned Raphael Legacy Design from 1988 to 1994 and, later on, as the owner and president of the Classical Geometry Export Trading which he established in 1995.
Throughout his career as designer-manager, Tugonon has brought international prestige to the Philippines for some of his crafts, including the “Una Cebu Car,” which is the first automobile in the world manufactured using indigenous materials exclusive to Cebu designed after a 1959 Porsche 356.
His aptitude for design innovation and management skills earned him several awards, such as the ‘International Awardee for Furniture Design’ in Slovakia, Singapore and Japan, and the ‘Presidential Awardee for Design’ during the Arroyo administration.
For his expertise, the multi-awarded Cebuano became part of the Board of Trustee of the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation (CFIF), and the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as a mentor of the One Cebu Obra Negosyo Eskwela.