Im­porters warn of loom­ing ce­ment short­age

Business World - - Corporate News - Jan­ina C. Lim

THE Philip­pine Ce­ment Im­porters As­so­ci­a­tion (PCIA) warned of a loom­ing ce­ment short­age within the next two months, amid con­cerns over pro­posed gov­ern­ment mea­sures to pro­tect the lo­cal ce­ment in­dus­try.

“With the Build, Build, Build in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram of the na­tional gov­ern­ment, a sup­ply short­age is im­mi­nent and will per­sist through the short term as it will take do­mes­tic ce­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers at least three years to fin­ish an in­te­grated man­u­fac­tur­ing plant,” PCIA said in a news­pa­per ad pub­lished on Mon­day.

PCIA ear­lier said lo­cal ce­ment plants are pro­duc­ing some 26 to 28 mil­lion met­ric tons (MT), which is in­suf­fi­cient to meet do­mes­tic de­mand at 31 to 32 mil­lion MT.

“This sup­ply gap is ex­pected to be­come worse within the next two months as a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent im­porters have tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended im­por­ta­tions in the wake of plans to im­pose a safe­guard tar­iff,” the group added.

“By Fe­bru­ary, the short­age will be­come more acute as China and Viet­nam — the prin­ci­pal sources of Philip­pine [ce­ment] im­ports — will shut down their ce­ment plants for an ex­tended pe­riod in cel­e­bra­tion of the Chi­nese lu­nar year.”

The PCIA is sched­uled to meet with of­fi­cials of the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) to­day.

“PCIA and other ce­ment im­porters are ap­peal­ing to gov­ern­ment pol­icy mak­ers to re­con­sider plans to im­pose a safe­guard tar­iff on ce­ment im­por­ta­tion at this will prej­u­dice the greater in­ter­est of the Filipino peo­ple,” the group said, say­ing it has no le­gal ba­sis.

“It is ironic that a safe­guard tar­iff is be­ing con­tem­plated when do­mes­tic ce­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers have nei­ther sought pro­tec­tion nor re their op­er­a­tions in danger of se­ri­ous in­jury, or even re­motely, face the threat of se­ri­ous in­jury,” it added.

Trade Sec­re­tary Ra­mon M. Lopez as­sured that there will be no ce­ment short­age as im­ports are still al­lowed.

“There is no cur­tail­ment nor per­mits re­quired,” he said in a mo­bile mes­sage.

The DTI launched in Septem­ber 2018 an in­ves­ti­ga­tion aimed at de­ter­min­ing whether im­ports from 2013 to 2017 brought in­jury to the do­mes­tic in­dus­try. —

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