Importers warn of looming cement shortage
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. —