Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Carrageenan exports up, boost seaweed industry
12/13/2010 | 10:33 PM

The increased demand for carrageenan in traditional markets has shored up the exports of all seaweed products, now estimated to reach $200 million in 2010 from $180 million in 2009.

The increase in seaweed exports was caused by a recovery in demand for carrageenan in major long-time markets like the United States and the European Union, Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (Siap) President Benson Dakay said on Monday.

"It was only in September when sales started picking up, and we were already anticipating negative sales. This is a pleasant surprise," said Dakay.

While 2010 exports were higher than expected, however, they were still lower than 2008 exports, which reached $250 million, he added.

Carrageenan, which comes from sea algae, is commonly used as a thickening or gelling agent or ingredient in dog food, ham, ice cream, yogurt and soy milk.

Stabilize currency, BSP says

Improved selling prices, have helped shore up exports, Dakay said, but he also noted that the seaweed industry is reeling from the continuous appreciation of the peso against the greenback.

"From P47 against the dollar, the exchange rate now is now P43 to $1. So for every sale you make in 2010, you lose," he said.

In September, the Seaweed Association urged the government to stabilize the Philippine currency, after the peso-dollar exchange rate breached the P43-to-$1mark.

In a letter to President Benigno Aquino III, the association called on the central bank to limit exchange band fluctuation "to no more than 1/2 percent or 1 percent per trading day, at the current exchange rate of not more than .22 centavos per day."

It also called on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to follow China’s foreign exchange rate policy.

"We would also like to request for the appreciation of the peso to the dollar not to exceed the annual inflation rate which is 4 percent at this year as they are doing in China to maintain export competitiveness," the letter read.

"The (relatively stable) Chinese yuan is making it hard for exporters like us to compete with China," Dakay added.

Devaluating the peso will benefit exporters Philippine services companies — such as companies that sell Philippine web development, animation and writing services to clients abroad — and even call centers.

It will also benefit thousands of Filipino families dependent on the remittances of their dollar-earning relatives. - DM, GMANews.TV

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