A national quality policy and local laboratories with international accreditation are what companies badly need to comply with global product standards and improve their competitiveness, a new survey by the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (PHILEXPORT) reveals.
Survey results released in January 2023 show that a number of PHILEXPORT members are encountering problems with international standards compliance due to the lack of accredited local laboratories to provide clearances and the limited number of equipment and facilities needed for product testing and analysis.
An overwhelming majority of the respondent firms—which are mostly from the housewares, food, and furniture sectors—said they were experiencing hardships obtaining standardization clearances for their products and services.
About 71% reported difficulties in finding a local laboratory with international accreditation, while 57% reported that the certification process for their products was not yet readily available in the country.
Not surprisingly, respondents shared that they need government assistance in complying with the international standards prevailing in overseas markets.
In particular, needed are equipment and facilities for, among others, tests on packaging, strength of materials, toxicity, and pesticides and residues, as well as for quality assurance, safety management, and certification systems such as Current Good Manufacturing Process, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, and Food Safety System Certification.
Businesses also said they lack standard handy tools, weighing scales, calipers, metal detectors, dehumidifiers, and modern equipment, machines and facilities that will allow them to meet international standards.
They requested for inclusion in free training programs to help them improve their standardization processes while also seeking “any assistance in easing the processing or requirements in exporting.”
“Product standardization remains to be a problem in the country owing to the lack of available certification process and local laboratories with international accreditation,” noted PHILEXPORT in its survey report.
“This ultimately calls for the establishment of a national quality infrastructure to help address standardization and compliance issues which foreign buyers require. This will also help increase the competitiveness of Philippine products in key export markets.”
Some of the recommendations given include setting up of testing facilities that are internationally recognized and the possible adoption of rapid testing for trade facilitation.
“Advocacies on standardization must also be listed in the priority agenda of the current administration,” it said.
The Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, and trade and business organizations including PHILEXPORT are working with international development partners on the crafting of a national quality policy to improve product standardization compliance of Philippine companies.
During a recent working meeting attended by these groups, PHILEXPORT reported that in September 2022, it met with its chapter members and leaders, who confirmed that exporters were having issues with the high cost of testing abroad.
The exporters hope the government will come to their aid by putting up internationally recognized facilities and laboratories in the country to help facilitate buyer accreditation and lower compliance costs.