China’s SIICGM claims un­fair treat­ment on its steel prod­ucts

Manila Bulletin - - Business News - By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

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.

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