China’s SIICGM claims unfair treatment on its steel products
Chinese conglomerate SIICGM Development (Hong Kong) Limited yesterday sought the intervention of the People Republic of China Embassy in Manila alleging of unfair treatment by its local partner in the importation of steel products.
In a letter to PROC Embassy, the Shanghai-based SIICGM asked the Chinese envoy’s help in coordinating with the Philippine government to swiftly resolve all issues preventing the release of MRTC’s steel shipment from China.
MRTC’s shipment of 20,000 metric tons of deformed steel bars – used for infrastructure projects like buildings and roads – are held up inside its warehouse at the Port of Subic on orders of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) despite compliance with import rules, standards and payment of more than R43 million in taxes, the company stressed.
“We’re very worried and disappointed about the investment environment in the Philippines. SIIC, as the pioneer enterprise of Chinese government’s The Belt and Road Policy, came to invest in the Philippines to meet the increasing construction material demands and we are willing to supply high quality and reasonable price construction materials. But we encountered obstacles at the very initial stage. We request our Ambassador to coordinate with Philippine government to remove obstacles for economic and trade exchanges between two countries and create an equal and mutually beneficial trade environment,” the letter stated.
In the letter, the firm pointed to Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) as responsible for misleading DTI and Bureau of Customs, for spreading false rumors about the quality of their steel and for causing the baseless recall of a final Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) issued by DTI to MRTC.
It added that PISI was engaged in various schemes to prevent MRTC from supplying high quality steel to the Philippine market at reasonable prices by hampering their customs and port clearances. Delayed delivery of steel bars already paid for by customers has led to project delays and irreparable losses to MRTC, SIICGM said.
Last week, MRTC president Lawrence Sy officially sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte and trade secretary Ramon Lopez. He asked for a thorough investigation of concerned government officials and agencies responsible for holding their steel shipment.
“We have full confidence in President Duterte’s leadership and his vow to rid government of corruption and red tape. We hope this issue would be resolved soon so we can continue to do business, pay taxes and help build the country,” Sy stressed.
He said MRTC’s steel products underwent thorough inspection and re-inspection by DTI Region 3 officials. The agency even issued a final inspection report stating that everything was in order.
However, the DTI later recalled the ICC granted to this particular steel importation.
In a letter dated December 8, DTI Regional Director Judith P. Angeles and Bureau of Philippine Standards Assistant Director/OIC Marimel D. Porciuncula informed Mannage Resources Trading Corporation (MRTC) president Lawrence Daniel Sy of the recall of the Import Commodity Clearance or ICC previously given to MRTC for its shipment of 20,000MT of imported Chinese steel bars.
Cited as the reason for the withdrawal of the ICC is for the DTI to ensure that the shipment meets the required laws, rules, and standards required for traceability, quality and safety.
On January 3, 2017, MRTC filed a graft and anti-red tape complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against two DTI officials for discriminatory conduct for what it called as “baseless” recall of a final ICC just nine days after it was issued by the same agency.