Smuggled plywood floods local market

Published by rudy Date posted on May 25, 2011

A GROUP of local wood producers on Tuesday called on the government’s attention over the influx of substandard and smuggled imported plywood from China.

Maila Vasquez, deputy executive director of the Philippine Wood Producers Association (PWPA), said that they are now seeking assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to carry out more active market monitoring program to immediately stop the flood of illegally imported Chinese plywood.

The executive, citing trade information, said that some 300 40-ft container load of plywood were brought into the country last April, and another 400 to 500 containers are estimated to arrive before the end of May.
She said that it has become common industry knowledge that container vans of plywood are being withdrawn from international ports—particularly in Manila ports—for a “fixed fee,” depriving the government of millions of pesos in taxes and duties.

“The government is losing at least P76-million worth of import duties and taxes per month because misdeclarations, or worse, outright smuggling of plywood into the country,” the executive told reporters.

Unlike locally produced plywood, these imported plywood from China are cheap and substandard since it was not subject to mandatory standards set by the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS), Vasquez said.

“We have verified the issue with the BPS. However, the agency revealed that almost all of the imports have nor declared their products as such, not complied with the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC), which should
be secured from the DTI,” she said.

Vasquez said that locally produced plywood is easy to identify and differentiate from smuggled plywood from China—which are 5-ply and of 4.5 mm thickness, but usually misrepresented and sold to the market as 5mm thickness.

“Also smuggled plywood has external veneers that are unacceptably thin, usually no thicker than 0.25 mm, and these panels are not sanded and are rough since they cannot bear sanding because thin veneers will be sanded away,” the official said.

The official also said that substandard and illegally imported plywood pose as a major health hazard to consumers and builders since the glue used in these products has high formaldehyde emissions.

In line with this, the PWPA is now asking the DTI, with the participation of its industry technical representatives, to actively monitor the entry and sale of these smuggled plywood. –JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ, Manila Times

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