Construction sector opposes safeguard duties on cement imports

By Kris Crismundo

October 29, 2018, 5:01 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine Constructors Association (PCA) has rejected any move to impose safeguard measures on imported cement as this will only increase construction costs.

In a position paper, the PCA said “the imposition of safeguard measures will surely tilt the balance and adversely affect the buying public”.

It was earlier reported that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is conducting its own investigation on the cement industry because of a spike in the quantity of imported cement sold locally.

PCA shared the same sentiment with cement importers, which stated that imposing safeguard measures to protect local cement manufacturers will only lead to higher prices of cement and will be an additional burden to consumers in this time of higher inflation.

Both PCA and cement importers feared that DTI's motu proprio investigation will only lead to the imposition of safeguard measures on imported cement -- a protectionist policy that restrains international trade.

“History shows that importation of cement was resorted to when the prices of local cement was increasing. Importation was done to neutralize the cartel of the local cement manufacturers,” PCA’s position paper read.

Cement importers noted the increase in cement importation is due to higher importation of local cement manufacturers, as they are lacking capacity to supply the domestic demand.

Industry data showed that domestic demand this year is expected between 30 million to 32 million metric tons. Local manufacturers have the capacity to supply 26 million MT, while importers share 6 million MT of the total supply.

“This unforeseen situation is again forcing the contractors and end-users to resort to imported cement, and to impose safeguard measures on imported cement will only contribute to the worsening situation in the construction industry as importers may refuse to import due to increased costs, or the country will suffer the dire consequences of lack of cement to pursue ongoing construction projects” the PCA said. (PNA)