On Monday December 9th, Palestinian producers and suppliers of dates, fresh herbs, and olive oil came together to meet with various Dutch buyers at a B2B and networking event in Amsterdam. The event was put together through a cooperation between the Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) and the European Union. Mohammed Nuseibeh, the chief executive officer of PalTrade, opened the event, followed by a presentation from the RVO (Netherlands Enterprise Agency) on available programs to aid the trade relationships between the two countries. The event was attended by 7 Palestinian suppliers, and more than 15 Dutch buyers.
Encouraging a green economy in Palestine
The event emanated from an initiative to increase a green economy in Palestine in a three-year project. Nuseibeh explains: “This is a project funded by the EU, and together with the Palestine Trade Center the project is aimed at creating a green economy in Palestine. This is done through work with both the authorities and the production companies in Palestine.”
He continues: “The first part of the project focuses on creating a policy framework for the Palestinian authorities to better encourage the use of green products and production and to work with the government to implement regulations that incentivize producers to switch to green production.”
“The second way in which we are working towards a greener economy is by helping the companies themselves to start converting to green production. This is done by helping them get their licenses and certificates, and helping the companies connect with markets that are interested in the green products, through events such as this one.”
Extensive market research
The Palestine Trade Center identified three European countries that would be most likely to be interested in green products from Palestine: France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Extensive market research was conducted on these countries to further flesh out the potential here.
Monique Harmsen conducted this market research and explains: “We looked at the market potential in these countries, not just for these specific products, but also for these specific products with a Palestine origin. We also looked at how the markets work, where the demand is, and the rules and regulations in place in these countries. Based off of this research we also created export guides for the companies to help them cooperate with these countries.
Through our research we were able to identify the Netherlands as the highest potential market for green products from Palestine.”
Nuseibeh adds: “At this event we are focusing on three main products: herbs, dates, and olive oil. These products were chosen because our initial research showed that these products have the most potential as green products in the European market. After this was decided, we invited all producers of these products to submit applications for the program, and if they met the criteria they were admitted to the program.”
Successful networking event
During the initial stages of planning the event, 38 companies were identified as fitting with the event. Of these companies, 7 were able to attend. The event had an informal setup, and after the initial introductions – a welcome from Nuseibeh, and a short presentation by Geert Bode of the RVO – the suppliers and buyers engaged in short 15-minute meetings, ‘speed-dating style’. The Palestinian suppliers remained seated at their tables, on which they have set out their products for showing and tasting, and various buyers from the Netherlands went around to meet with the suppliers.
Momen Sinokrot, of date production company Palestine Gardens, was pleased with the event: “We have been meeting a good selection of people here. The European market can be really difficult to break into, and this event is giving us great opportunities to meet buyers, make connections, and even make some deals.”
Nuseibeh said at the outset of the event, during his welcome: “PalTrade was set up in 1998 and our goal is to promote Palestinian exports through B2B meetings such as this one, as well as through organizing trade exhibits, doing market research and facilitating trade agreements. Through this event, we hope to show that Palestine has some great products to offer the Dutch market.”