MANDATORY QUALITY certification for imported plywood has been put on hold to 2022 after a request from an industry group to be given more time, citing difficulties complying with the inspection regime due to pandemic restrictions. 

The Philippines last week alerted the World Trade Organization of the rule change, allowing the entry of plywood from foreign sources without a valid Philippine Standard (PS) license until Dec. 31.

Plywood last year was restored to the list of products that must be certified for quality as part of a crackdown on substandard goods. The administrative order that took effect on Oct. 30, 2020 requires PS licensing for both domestically manufactured and imported plywood, allowing only those with the certification to be sold in the Philippines.

The Philippine Wood Producers Association, which had supported mandatory certification for product safety, had requested more time to comply.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in memorandum circular 21-30 said that imports covered in the original order will be exempt from the PS licensing rule, but all other product inspection and sampling rules will still be carried out.

All manufacturers and importers must have valid PS licenses before selling goods in the country by January 1.

The DTI in the lead up to issuing the quality certification rules studied returning plywood to the mandatory certification list in response to a surge in imports since its removal from the list in 2015. Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said substandard plywood threatens both public safety and domestic manufacturing.

DTI earlier this year also exempted imported plywood used for furniture-making from some testing and licensing rules. — Jenina P. Ibañez