The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has marketed the local chemicals industry in a regional meeting, even as stricter regulation of the sector is set to be implemented.
The DTI told delegates from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Japan that the Philippines’ chemical industry saw a strong and sustained double-digit growth of 16.5 percent in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This 2015 growth was faster than the industry’s 4.9 percent growth a year ago.
The announcement was made during the 21st meeting of the Asean Economic Ministers-Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan Economic and Industrial Cooperation Committee’s (AMEICC) Working Group on Chemical Industry (WG-CI) last month, hosted by the DTI.
This meeting identified the best practices in chemicals regulation, as well as the lock-in concrete interventions needed to address chemical safety issues and promote chemical safety management.
“We are encouraged by the sustainable progress of our domestic chemical industry. By continuously improving products and processes, we plan to further this growth to achieve sustainable inclusive growth of the economy and generate quality jobs,” Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said.
The DTI and BOI have been exerting efforts to market and promote the Philippines’ chemicals industry despite facing headwinds from the tight regulations by the Philippine National Police on 41 chemical substances.
The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) recently said that they expect the chemicals sector to incur up to a 15 percent decline in sales this year due to the impact of government regulation of chemicals.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to start regulating the import, export, and handling procedures of 41 chemical substances, in accordance with Presidential Decree 1866. But because of a moratorium issued by DILG Secretary Senen Sarmiento late last year, the control over the chemicals was postponed starting December 9 last year and was further extended up to April 30 this year.
During the suspension of the regulations, the PNP has been drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 9516, which lists chemicals to be controlled for safety purposes, as well as indicating procedures on regulating such chemicals, and guidelines for transferring and handling these chemicals.
Until such time that the IRR is completed, the temporary suspension on the regulation of the controlled chemicals will remain in place.
The chemical industry is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country, involving manufacture of basic chemicals, rubber products, plastic products and other chemicals.
The industry has extensive connections with other industries including agriculture/agribusiness, automotive, cement, creative, construction, energy, fishing, health, housing, and pharmaceuticals industries.
“Our goal is to be more responsive to the growing consumer need for environment-friendly products. We are working closely with stakeholders, relevant agencies, and the private sector to develop a stronger chemicals sector that thrives in the regional and global markets,” Rodolfo said.
The sector has an existing Chemicals Industry Roadmap, which aspires to create a wide range of higher value products that serve both domestic and global markets with the best customer value. It envisions the industry as a major player in the region by 2016 and a leading exporter by 2022.
The AMEICC is a body for policy consultations among Asean member states and Japan to enhance industrial cooperation, improve Asean’s competitiveness, and develop cooperation assistance to new member countries.
The 22nd Meeting of the AMEICC WG-CI will be held in Malaysia in April or May 2017.