Abaca Fiber Exports May Hit $80 M - MB

Philippine export earnings from abaca fiber and manufactures are projected to reach $80 million in 2009, slightly lower than last year’s $100 million, although demand for such products in markets abroad remains strong.

Mystic Pelayo, Fiber Industry Development Authority’s (FIDA) supervising statistician, said such estimate could actually be much higher if earnings of other export industries using abaca for their raw materials are included.

Pelayo said the country’s commodity code classifies only small items such as handbags, placemats and door mats under the sector’s export sales. She pointed out that the Philippines remains the world’s biggest supplier of abaca fiber with a share of around 86 percent, followed by Ecuador comprising the remaining 14 percent.

FIDA data shows the United Kingdom and Japan are the country’s biggest markets for abaca fiber from 2004-2008; Germany, UK and Japan for abaca pulp; and the United States for abaca cordage, cables, ropes and twines.

“The demand for abaca continues since the Sept. 11, 2001 US terrorist attacks because of the opening of markets of Eastern European countries, including Russia. Teabags, cigarettes and meat casings are our markets in specialty paper made of abaca.”

Pelayo recalled that abaca export had been rising for the past few years not until last year when demand was slightly affected by the global financial crisis.

“The US was hit hard by the recession, so our exports were slightly affected, especially for cordage. It is our biggest buyer for cordage, they use it for their marine, shipping and oil exploration,” she said.

But despite this, she expressed optimism that the sector could recover by end of this year. “Based on our past experience, one year after the 9/11, abaca exports recovered. Abaca papers are mostly used for food packaging. People will continue eating, smoking and drinking tea and coffee.”

June 4, 2009, 4:29pm

source: www.mb.com.ph