The Philippine Confectionery Biscuit and Snack Association asked the government to allow the importation of cheap sweeteners to make the local confectionery industry competitive.
The group led by William Lim presented major issues confronting the local confectionery industry during a meeting with Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Ceferino Rodolfo.
The group, composed of 19 producers of candies, snacks and other confectionery products, noted the huge disparity in the price of domestic sugar against imported sugar. Local sugar costs P2,500 per 50-kilogram bag compared with imported sugar at P1,200 a bag, it said.
The group said the price distortion was seriously affecting members as sugar was the main ingredient of a confectionery item. Sugar constitutes about 50 percent to 70 percent of a confectionary item, according to Lim.
The group said an existing rule was preventing members from bringing in imported sugar despite existing regional trade treaties.
Lim said as imported confectionery goods were subject to zero duty, the market share of imported confectionery goods increased to 25 percent in 2015 from 5 percent in 2010.
Lim asked the Trade Department to formulate a solution by coming up with a policy allowing the confectionery industry to import sugar to supplement production requirements.
The group said the confectionery group was amenable to a win-win solution where part of production requirements would still be sourced from the domestic sugar producers as the group recognized the concerns of local sugar industry.
Lim said allowing the confectionery industry to import sugar would also be in compliance of the Asean Free Trade Agreements that allow the importation of sugar, subject to 5-percent duty.
Sales of confectionery items, both local and imported, are estimated at P29 billion annually.