• DTI eyes safe­guard mea­sures on ce­ment im­ports

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - By LOUELLA DESIDE­RIO

The Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) is look­ing at im­pos­ing mea­sures to pro­tect the lo­cal ce­ment in­dus­try as it found ris­ing im­ports to be hurt­ing do­mes­tic play­ers.

Trade Sec­re­tary Ra­mon Lopez said the agency, which started an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine if there is a need to im­pose safe­guard mea­sure on ce­ment im­ports in Septem­ber, has found that ce­ment im­ports have risen and threat­ens the do­mes­tic in­dus­try.

“We have no­ticed an im­port surge. There is an im­port surge re­ally. That has been es­tab­lished,” he said, adding the higher im­ports hurt the lo­cal in­dus­try in terms of sales.

Ce­ment im­ports sales in par­tic­u­lar, rose by 70 per­cent to 6,059 met­ric tons (MT) in 2014 from 3,558 MT in 2013, went up by 4,400 per­cent to reach 272,088 MT in 2015, in­creased 550 per­cent to 1.77 mil­lion MT in 2016 and grew 72 per­cent to hit 3.04 mil­lion MT in 2017.

Mean­while, sales of do­mes­tic play­ers went up by 11.31 per­cent to 18.45 mil­lion MT in 2014, in­creased by 11.82 per­cent to 20.64 mil­lion MT in 2015, grew slightly by 0.70 per­cent to 20.78 mil­lion MT in 2016, and de­clined by 1.50 per­cent to 20.47 mil­lion MT in 2017.

Should the DTI im­pose safe­guard duty on ce­ment im­ports, he said the DTI would still want to en­sure price sta­bil­ity.

“We will also have a re­quire­ment that price sta­bil­ity will be en­sured so that prices would not go up. These are things we are fine-tun­ing. That is why we can­not yet an­nounce. But these are what we are look­ing into. As­sum­ing there is im­port duty, there will be like a max­i­mum price or trig­ger price by which that duty would be sus­pended,” he said.

He said even if a safe­guard duty is placed on ce­ment im­ports, the DTI ex­pects enough ce­ment sup­ply to meet de­mand, par­tic­u­larly for in­fra­struc­ture projects un­der the Build Build Build pro­gram.

Var­i­ous groups have ear­lier ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to im­po­si­tion of safe­guard duty on ce­ment im­ports.

Philip­pine Ce­ment Im­porters As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. pres­i­dent Napoleon Co said an ad­di­tional safe­guard duty on ce­ment im­ports is not nec­es­sary and would mean an in­crease in prices and ag­gra­vate the sup­ply short­age.

La­ban Kon­syumer Inc. (LKI) said the im­po­si­tion of safe­guard duty on ce­ment im­ports could de­rail in­fra­struc­ture projects be­ing im­ple­mented both by the pri­vate sec­tor and the gov­ern­ment with an ex­pected short­age in sup­ply.

La­ban Kon­syumer Inc. pres­i­dent Vic­to­rio Mario Dimag­iba said the DTI should en­sure com­ple­tion of ex­pan­sion of lo­cal ce­ment mak­ers be­fore even think­ing about im­pos­ing the safe­guard duty on ce­ment im­ports.

The Philip­pine Con­struc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. said ear­lier, the im­po­si­tion of safe­guard mea­sures on ce­ment im­ports would harm con­sumers and con­trac­tors with more and more con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties com­ing up.

Repub­lic Act 8800 or the Safe­guard Mea­sures Act al­lows the im­po­si­tion of safe­guard mea­sures or higher du­ties on im­ported goods to pro­vide re­lief to lo­cal play­ers.

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