Press Releases

Salceda: House tax panel to allow ‘ukay-ukay’ imports, subject to DOH standards

August 16th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has said that his committee will move to repeal Republic Act No. 4653, or the law which prohibits the importation of used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay,’ which Salceda estimates to be a P18 billion industry.

“We will take it up and move to repeal the bill, subject to standards prescribed by the Department of Health,” Salceda said, who added that he will file a bill on the matter.

Salceda says that “a locator in Clark even imports used clothing that they sort. They reexport the usable clothes and use the rest as rags. There is a USD 28 billion market for used clothing. In fact, supermarkets there already sell used branded clothing. These fashion stores already accept used clothing.”

Salceda cited supermarkets such as Walmart that already sell “excellent used clothing” of top brands.

Salceda also cited fast fashion brands that solicit used clothing from their customers, either for recycling as rags or reuse.

Salceda also cited the potential of the ukay-ukay industry.

“There is a niche but increasingly larger retro clothing industry as well. And there seems to be a potential for us to be a sorting ad reexport center for used but good clothing,” Salceda added.

Salceda says that such a repeal will “finally formalize a large but in-the-shadows sector that so many of the rural and urban poor deem to be essential businesses.”

Putting health standards in place, Salceda adds, will also reduce the health risks of such imports.

“I would rather that we place DOH standards and allow ukay-ukay businesses to finally register, instead of having such a large underground sector that we just choose to ignore, because it’s big enough to provide jobs, but illegal.”

Salceda adds that “in fact, we have tariff lines for ukay-ukay. 15-20 percent for used clothing from countries we do not have trade agreements with, and zero percent for ASEAN countries. Major sources will include the United States and Europe, which we do not have free trade agreements with, and Japan, with which we do.”

“Law enforcement does not raid ukay-ukay stores. Ukay has always been available as an option. For humanitarian reasons, we import ukay-ukay. Even apprehended ukay imports are eventually donated to disaster victims. And no one thinks it’s a bad idea to do these things. Ukay-ukay has been legal in all but the law itself.”

“It’s time for the law to recognize what is real and legal to the ordinary Filipino anyway,” Salceda added.

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