MANUFACTURERS of rubber products said the inability of the government to enforce provisions of trade agreements and the influx of cheap Chinese and Vietnamese rubber products are some of the threats to their competitiveness.
In a survey which aimed to get the feedback of Philippine Rubber Industries Association (PRIA) members on a proposed industry roadmap, they cited deficient rubber testing facilities, the unstable price of crumb rubber and non-availability of quality raw materials as other threats.
PRIA called on the government to impose stricter measures against smuggling and to educate consumers about the hazards of using cheap but poor quality rubber products such as tires. The group also called for higher standards for rubber products entering the Philippines.
Manufacturers of rubber products also called on the government to assist PRIA to establish a tooling/machining service facility for rubber products.
The group also called for the establishment of a research and development laboratory, accreditation of rubber testing centers, and for the government to launch a “Buy Filipino” campaign.
“The government can also consider sponsoring the participation of PRIA members in regional as well as international trade fairs,” said Prof. Leoncio Cubillas, director of the UP Institute for Small-Scale Industries who presented the results of the survey during a recent forum on the industry road maps for the rubber and paper sectors.
Local manufacturers of rubber products no longer ship out their goods to other countries but PRIA said they remain keen on the export market. PRIA members said there is a need to develop their expertise to export motorcycle tires. They also need assistance to tap export opportunities in automotives, appliances, computers and semi-conductors.
The group noted that there is a “huge opportunity” to export rubber products in the Asean market. To date, a total of 20 sectoral road maps have been submitted to the Board of Investments (BOI) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The BOI said all 20 roadmaps are being integrated into the manufacturing industry roadmap. The DTI said the crafting of industry roadmaps is lead by the private sector and that the government acts as “enabler and facilitator.”
Last year the government launched its industry development program in its bid to revive the country’s manufacturing sector and support the growth of the services sector.