MANILA–The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently held a consultation meeting with plywood industry stakeholders to get their inputs about the influx of plywood in the country. Plywood imports, which are not tested for quality, grew almost four times from 2015 to 2019.

If needed, the agency will draft a Department Administrative Order (DAO) to reinstate plywood in the list of products under mandatory certification.

DTI Secretary Lopez said the objective is to ensure safety for the consumers and eliminate the selling of substandard plywood products in the market. During the 2nd Consumer Congress on 25 October 2019, Secretary Lopez said that substandard plywood is “unfair to all of us” and are threatening both public safety and the local manufacturing industry.

We saw the numbers in plywood. In a three-year period since plywood was removed from the list in 2015, imports have rapidly increased and these are not tested for standard compliance. It’s good if these products comply with the standards,” Sec. Lopez said.

According to the Bureau of Philippine Standards, plywood imports from January to June 2015 was 8,624 MT, worth around US$ 4.5 million. In the same period in 2019, plywood imports have quadrupled to 32,768 MT, worth around US$12.75 million.

A total of 194,826 MT of plywood, worth US$ 75.58 million was imported from July 2015 to June 2019.

We are adding more products in the mandatory compliance since many of them were released from the list. Since then, we saw import surges of these products. And since they are not subjected to mandatory testing, substandard products can come in,” the trade chief said.

He noted that since substandard plywood can be sold at a very low price, local manufacturers may be forced to sell at a loss or stop operations. This, in turn, may shrink the country’s manufacturing base and widen the trade deficit. Sec. Lopez then called on consumer groups to join the DTI in pushing for mandatory compliance standards to protect the consumers and local manufacturers.

Under the proposed DAO, plywood products must comply with the Technical Regulation for Mandatory PS Licensing Scheme under the International Standard for Plywood, PNS ISO 12465:2017. The Bureau of Philippine Standards will then test plywood samples before issuing PS Quality or Safety Certification marks to local manufacturers and Import Commodity Clearances (ICC) to importers.

Currently, DTI has already issued new technical regulations for cement, steel bars, and glass. Consultations are ongoing for regulations on black iron and galvanized iron (BI/GI) steel pipes and steel sheets. Aside from plywood, DTI is also working on a draft DAO for ceramic tiles.

The secretary noted that all of these are in done in support of the current Build Build Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte to make sure that construction materials are of good quality and compliant with standards. He said that regulation of construction materials is necessary to ensure the integrity of all construction in the country, whether vertical or horizontal, whether public or private. ♦

Date of Release: 30 October 2019