Reforms needed to boost activated carbon exports-A A +A
Saturday, August 31, 2013
ACTIVATED carbon producers in the Philippines sought the government's help in mining the relatively untapped export potential of their commodity, as world demand is expected to increase by more than ten percent annually to 1.9-million metric tons by 2016.
Global demand has been steadily growing for activated carbon, which is essentially treated charcoal used for various industrial purposes, including air and water purification, deodorization, precious metals recovery, and pharmaceuticals, said Bonifacio Fernandez Jr. of BF Industries and Philips Carbon in Mindanao.
In a recent industry briefing, Fernandez said world demand rose from 644,000 metric tons in 2001 to almost 1.2 million metric tons in 2011 and is forecast to rise to 2.7 million metric tons by 2021.
Demand from Asia reached 464,000 metric tons in 2011 and is seen to jump to 750,000 metric tons in 2016 and 1.1 million metric tons in 2021.
On the other hand, North American demand in 2011 totaled 325,000 metric tons, and is forecast to expand to 642,000 metric tons in 2016 and 912,000 metric tons in 2021.
Europe, Africa, and other regions together purchased 391,000 metric tons of the product two years ago, and are seen to need 538,000 metric tons and 738,000 metric tons in 2016 and 2021, respectively.
But Fernandez said the industry's sunny future is being undermined by foreign competition, illegal trade practices, and other problems that hinder development.
He noted how foreign companies have expanded their operations in Mindanao, moving from buyer to competitor of domestic manufacturers for market and raw material supply.
Another major headache for local active carbon makers and exporters is the export of charcoal and granulated charcoal to countries like China, Korea, and Taiwan, where they are converted into activated carbon.
Fernandez likewise lambasted the illegal practice of misdeclaring charcoal or granulated charcoal as activated carbon, which can result in spontaneous combustion during transit. This has caused shipping companies to reject even legitimate activated carbon shipments.
Calling for a ban on the overseas shipment of these raw materials, Fernandez said the Philippines is missing the opportunity to be a major supplier of activated carbon in the world market.
We should focus instead on promoting the export of activated carbon as a value-added product of coconut, he added.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Bureau of Custom (BOC) can address the problem by requiring certification from manufacturers confirming that the cargo being shipped by a trader is really activated carbon, noted Fernandez.
He also recommended that the PCA intensify coconut propagation, halt the massive conversion of coconut plantations, discourage the use of coconut shell for boilers in factories, create more farm access roads, and offer incentives like tax rebates for activated carbon exports.
"The Philippine activated carbon industry is threatened, but it still has a bright future with the government's assistance and support to local manufacturers," said Fernandez.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 01, 2013.