FPI: Time to recalibrate trade policies

Published September 7, 2020, 5:00 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Domestic industries also in danger of ending up in incinerators as they battle another COVID-19 in the form of dumping of cheap and substandard imported goods, the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) warned.

In separate letters to President Rodrigo Duterte and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, FPI relayed the concerns of the domestic industries on the entry of cheaper and substandard imported goods.

FPI stressed that domestic manufacturers are asking the government to recalibrate the country’s trade policies to protect local industries and consumers from the influx of cheaper and substandard imported goods, as businesses — especially those subsidized by their governments — naturally seek to gain footing overseas to offset lost sales in their own markets due to the pandemic.

FPI Chairman Jesus L. Arranza said other countries are already moving, not just to boost their exports, but also to protect their local manufacturers from foreign competition, as the world transitions to the so-called New Normal.

He noted that China and the United States are already seeing gains in their initiatives to boost exports. In July, China’s merchandise shipments went up 7.2 percent. The US, on the other hand, saw its total exports climb 9.4 percent.

“Local industries are also battling a different kind of pandemic, and this is COVID-19 in the form of dumping of goods, so we need to review our policies and stop deciding on trade issues like we are still in the old normal. The least we prepare, the worst it will hit us. Philippine businesses are also in danger of ending up in incinerators,” Arranza stressed.

“We respectfully ask desperate measures during these desperate times. Probably, this is now the opportune time to review all trade laws, including safeguard measures, anti-dumping law, countervailing law, among others, in order for us to respond to the new norm and the predicament all countries are facing due to the effects of the covid-19 pandemic,” Arranza said in the letters to Duterte and Lopez.

He noted that even the US, which is the chief purveyor of globalization and free trade, “was not even embarrassed when they incorporated a ‘Buy American’ provision in their stimulus plan”.

“This should humbly be taken as our cue to also seriously implement this in the Philippines. Indeed, charity should begin at home,” Arranza said.

He said the launch of the Duterte administration’s“Maging BUYani – Buy Local, Go Lokal”, which serves as the DTI’s national media campaign for Filipinos to consume and purchase fresh local produce and manufactured goods, will greatly help local producers and manufacturers who have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to recover and grow.

The FPI, Arranza informed, will also be re-launching the “Buy Pinoy, Buy Local” Movement.

“All countries are gravely affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. There are less activities, less demands and we therefore fear that this will worsen the influx of imported goods, including substandard products, in the country because other nations will want to get a share of that dwindling global market.

Rightfully, our campaign is supported no less by our fundamental law in Section 12, Article XII, Philippine Constitution in relation to Commonwealth Act 138 (Flag Law) as well as Administrative Order 227 which are very clear on the mandate to patronize locally made products,” Arranza said.