In September 2020, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Philippines has initiated a preliminary safeguards investigation on the importation of (1) High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) pellets and granules and (2) Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) pellets and granules from various countries including Malaysia covering the period of 2015 to 2019, as according to malaya.com.ph. The products involved are classified under the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN) 3901.20.00 for HDPE and 3901.10.12, 3901.10.92, 3901.40.00 and 3901.90.90 for LLDPE. 

Preliminary Safeguards Investigation

The preliminary investigation reportedly stem from allegation made by JG Summit Petrochemical Corporation (JGSPC) stating that the substantial increase in importation of HDPE and LLDPE has caused significant injury to the domestic industry over the period covered. Apart from Malaysia, countries including Thailand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, USA and UAE are also being investigated.

For the record, JGSPC is the largest manufacturer of polyolefin and the only integrated polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) resin manufacturer in the Philippines. The company produces HDPE, LLDPE, PP-H and PP-R resins marketed under the brand ‘Evalene’ using the world renowned Unipol technology. JGSPC caters to both local and international markets. Being the only manufacturer in the country, they control the local market by supplying to over 200 plastic manufacturers and distributors. It was reported that JGSPC has been severely affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
 
According to portcalls.com, HDPE is used to produce products such as plastic bottles, corrosion resistant piping, geomembranes and plastic lumber. Meanwhile LLDPE is used to manufacture items such as plastic bags and sheets, plastic wrap, stretch wrap, pouches, toys, covers, lids, pipes, buckets and containers, covering of cables, geomembranes, and flexible tubing.
 
Upon JGSPC’s request, according to malaya.com.ph, DTI through its evaluation reports stated that the growth rate on imports of HDPE for the period of 5 years has recorded at 274% with significant imports surge in 2016 and 2019. Initially, the importation of HDPE recorded at 29,692MT in 2015 and rose by 53,860MT (181%) in 2016. In 2019, the imports of HDPE further increased by 22,856MT (26%) compared to 2018.
 
As for LLDPE, according to malaya.com.ph, the DTI report stated that the imports significantly grew from 80,000MT in 2015 to 121,000MT in 2019. It was reported that the importation of LLDPE in 2016 increased by 3,871MT (5%) compared to 2015. The imports further rose by 30,462MT (38%) in 2018 and 10,325MT (9%) in 2019.  The DTI evaluation report further added that the local industry suffered from decline in domestic sales, production, utilisation rate, reduced labor productivity, losses, suppression, depression and increased inventory.
 
Based on the data from Bureau of Customs (SAD-IEIRD), the importation of HDPE by the Philippines from 2015 to 2019 was mainly from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, of which these countries collectively accounted for 89.1% share of total imports in 2019. While LLDPE was mainly sourced from Singapore, Thailand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, USA, Malaysia, South Korea and Canada which collectively accounted for 96.4% share of imports. 

The Way Forward

The petrochemical industry has been one of the strategic sectors that anchors Philippines industrial development. The government of Philippines decision to initiate preliminary investigation would eventually impact Malaysia due to the possible safeguard duties. Malaysian exporters are therefore advised to be aware of the current investigation to prepare for the future outcomes.

For further information and enquiries, please contact MATRADE Manila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note 1: 
This article is based on Market Alert (MA) prepared by MATRADE Manila the information is correct at the time of the writing (29 September 2020).
 
Note 2:
The MA is available in MyExport which can be accessed at www.matrade.gov.my

Disclaimer
While every effort has been taken to ensure that the contents of the article (MATRADE’S Insight) are accurate and current, MATRADE cannot be held responsible for any inclusion, omission or error and is not liable for any loss or dispute arising from the use of the information provided

Source: MATRADE

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