Local paper makers oppose imports too
MANILA, Philippines — Like other industries reeling from years of government neglect, Philippine paper makers are groaning over the continuing increase in imports of paper products which, they said, could lead to large-scale layoffs.
House Deputy Majority Leader Jose Teves Jr., of the Talino at Galing ng Pinoy party list, said that an association of manufacturers said there was a substantial increase in paper imports during the first half of the year.
“Our local paper producers are greatly affected by importation of papers and [the] undervalued prices by traders and possible violation of antidumping measures,” Teves said during the budget hearing for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) at the House of Representatives.
Teves said that imports of recycled container boards went up by 35 percent while writing and printing paper increased by 5 percent from January to June.
Lack of gov’t support
He added that imports of tissue and sanitary paper products also went up by 30 percent during the same six-month period.
The lawmaker said the issue of unfair competition was compounded by the continuing shutdowns of paper plants over the past few years because of the lack of government support for the industry.
“If these shutdowns continue, it could lead to massive layoffs of thousands of employees of paper manufacturers because of bankruptcy. And this is not counting the truck drivers engaged in the delivery of these products,” he added.
He added that the local recycling industry would also be affected if the country’s paper industry continues to falter.
According to the lawmaker, there are at least 22 local paper manufacturing companies in the Philippines, a sector estimated to value P55 billion to date.
Aside from these issues, Teves said that the government loses $108 million per year in uncollected taxes from the 2 million metric tons of various paper product imports annually.
“Because of technical smuggling, these import products are undervalued,” he said.
Responding to Teves during the hearing, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said they were aware of the “dumping” of paper products in the country.
“In fact this is an issue that is not just limited to the paper industry, but most [producers] of industrial products [are] really subjected to some form of unfair competition,” he said during the same hearing.
Because of this, Rodolfo said that the government imposed safeguard duties for paper products in the past, but the prescribed period ended in 2018.
The trade official said that they would welcome a dialogue with trade groups representing the local paper industry to find solutions to address the problem.