MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The Philippine plastics industry has been hit by the Asian economic crisis.
Most plastics manufacturers have suffered low sales volumes as the Philippine currency fell to an average of 40 pesos per U.S. dollar this year from 28.5 pesos in July 1997. As a result, imports of plastic resins and semifinished products fell by 40 percent in the first quarter of 1998 while industrial machinery and equipment dropped 35 percent, according to the Philippine National Statistics Office.
Celedonio Pile, general manager of Celmar Trading, a Manila-based machinery distributor, said he has had no orders for new injection molding machines or granulators since December. The devalued Philippine peso and high interest rates have made it too expensive for domestic processors to acquire new machines, he said.
Processors are split about when the situation will improve.
Metroplas Packaging Products Corp. of Manila anticipates that 1998 will remain very competitive. But the company is optimistic that it will stay profitable, thanks to support from major customers, new-product development and its entry into the PET bottle market.
At the same time, Metroplas noted that some customers have demanded price cuts.
Starpack Philippines Corp., a Manila packaging manufacturer, is confident that 1998 will be profitable thanks to growing demand for flexible packaging.