The Chamber of Furniture Industries in the Philippines (CFIP) has warned that the absence of a private sector certifying body acceptable to the European Union would hamper for furniture and home furnishing exports to Europe.
In a recent dialogue with diplomatic and trade representatives from EU, CFIP president Joy Cancio stressed that the new policy requiring all wood-based imports to the EU to be certified when sourced from plantation forests has emerged as a technical barrier to trade to furniture and home furnishing exporters from the Philippines.
This uinintended effect of the environment-friendly regulation arose from the fact that no private entity in the Philippines has been accredited to do the certification job.
Exporters, if they want their shipments to enter Europe, need to get certification from certifying bodies in Singapore and other Asian countries.
“Meeting the requirement has become too expensive,” Cancio said. The situation has a negative impact on furniture exports to the EU which is the industry second largest market, next to the United States.
Philippine furniture is one of the top five exports of the Philippines together with electronics, garments coconut oil and automotive parts. Were it not for the global recession in the past two years, yearly exports would have broken the $1 billion mark.
The same problem has also descended on the industry from the US. Also this year, the US government, after a law on wood traceablity was passed by its Congress last year, also took effect.
In the case of the EU, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has not been allowed to issue the certification that the wood used in specific furniture made in the Philippines used plantation wood.
An independent private entity is required to do the inspection and certification. This would require investments by the private enterprises or individuals in such a certifying body. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has indicated its willingness to recognize such an entity.
There has been no takers from among local investors so far. It was suggested that to start one, certain subsidies are needed from both the Philippine government and the EU.
In a previous case when the EU found the tuna processing facilities of plants in the Philippines had inadequate health and safety facilities, the EU extended technical and financial assistance to the industry players and the Bureau of Fisheries before tune exports to EU were resumed.