Local palm growers fear death of young industry

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2012 06:41 PM | Updated as of Dec 03 2012 04:31 PM

…want add’l levies on imported palm oil products

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Palm Oil Development Council Inc. (PPDCI) said there is a need to protect local palm growers as it expressed alarm that the market is now flooded with imported palm oil.

The country’s palm growers said they will ask the government to impose a “safeguard duty” on all palm oil products being brought into the country. PPDCI President Erwin Garcia said they are already competing with products from Indonesia and Malaysia.

He noted that the problem is further aggravated by “technical” smuggling, specifically the undervaluation of palm oil products. He said that if this is not stopped, the local industry will find itself at the losing end.

Garcia said “the group’s petition will stress that the local palm industry is still on its infancy stage, that the government should continue to assure investors it will create a level playing field for all.”

He said the government should put in place immediate measures to encourage investors to continue plans for palm plantation projects. 

He explained that Republic Act 8800, meant to protect local industries, provide safeguard measures such as additional duties imposed on imported products.

The Department of Trade and Industry can impose a “safeguard duty” to protect local industries from an “import surge.” This scheme was earlier done when the government saw a surge in imported glass, ceramic and cement products.

The law requires an automatic review by the Tariff Commission.

“We will never get tired of calling the attention of the government until smuggling is stopped and the smugglers penalized,” he said. He said they have already raised their concerns to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who has promised in return to help them.

PPDCI is an association of palm growers whose members are mostly based in Mindanao. The group includes as its members Kenram Philippines, Filipinas Palmoil, Agumil Philippines, Aberdi, and an additional 5,000 growers.