Cemap plea junked

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    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has slapped a P9.80-additional duty per 40-kilogram bag of imported cement for the second year of the cement industry’s safeguard measures protection.

    The imposition effectively rejects a petition by the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (Cemap) to raise the tariff to P12 per bag.

    Nevertheless, the rate is 80 centavos higher than the scheduled P9 per bag tariff imposition earlier approved by the DTI and just 20 centavos less than the P10 imposed last year.

    In his order dated Oct. 26, 2020 and posted on the DTI website, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the P9.80 additional duty applies on imports between Oct. 22, 2020 and Oct. 21, 2021 on cement classified under AHTN Codes 2523.29.90 and 2523.90.00.

    Cemap also earlier sought to delay the reduction of the tariff from P10 in 2019 to P9, saying imports were bouncing back in the first half of 2020 due to higher surplus from sources like Vietnam; lower prices and; lower freight.

    In issuing a higher tariff than originally approved, Lopez said the DTI’s review showed there are indications the significant increase in the volume of imports of cement affected the performance of the local industry.

    “The condition of competition shows the market share of locally-produced cement was displaced even with the imposition of the definitive safeguard of P250 per metric ton or P10 per bag as the share of imports in the market significantly increased, resulting to domestic industry’s increased inventory, reduced capacity utilization and increased decline in profitability,” he said.

    The order added the pandemic aggravated the overall operation of the cement industry in the first half of the year which resulted to the closure and slowdown of operations due to quarantine measures and low market demand.

    Lopez added the scheduled adjustment plan by the cement industry in 2020 is delayed as the industry was not able to quickly resume and complete the necessary investments due to the business disruptions resulting from the quarantine measures implemented to fight the pandemic.