The Department of Trade and Industry wants to tap the export potential of “engineered” bamboo as it is expected to provide Philippine furniture manufacturers a competitive edge in the Asean region.
This will be critical after 2015 when the economies of the 10-member countries of the Asean would have been integrated under the Asean Economic Community, allowing the free flow of goods and manpower across the region.
Senen M. Perlada, director at the DTI’s Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP), said engineered bamboo had huge export potential since bamboo is endemic in the country; bamboo plantations can thrive nationwide; and new technologies are readily available for adoption.
“The innate creativity of the Filipino and the plant’s flexibility as a raw material for a variety of products and uses can be showcased in international trade exhibitions and missions, as well as in local trade fairs and exhibits,” Perlada added.
Engineered bamboo refers to the low-cost product manufactured from bamboo and designed to replace wood.
Citing World Bamboo Resources, the DTI said that the Philippines had about 172,000 hectares of bamboo forest in 2005, or about 2.4 percent of the country’s total forest area of 7,162-million hectares.
Over the past five years, the country’s export sales of bamboo furniture and furnishings had been on a seesaw trend, reaching a high of $1.21 million in 2008 and then dropping to $928,132 in 2009, government data showed.
In 2010, export sales stood at $689,786, before it regained momentum in 2011 with sales reaching $1.1 million.
In 2012, sales of bamboo furniture dropped by 56.9 percent to $481,195 from the previous year.
The Philippines’ main markets for bamboo furniture in 2012 were the United States, which accounted for $261,020; France, $64,806; and the Netherlands, $35,116.
Exports of bamboo furnishings, though more modest compared to bamboo furniture, brought in $365,398 in 2008 and $464,343 in 2011, but dropped to $100,521 in 2012.
The main market was France, which bought 90 percent or $90,329 worth of bamboo furnishings from the Philippines in 2012. Amy R. Remo