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DTI slaps higher duties on imported cement

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THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has ordered the imposition of definitive general safeguard duty on imported cement for three years to prevent the “threat of serious injury” on local cement products.

“We are deciding on the imposition of definitive safeguard duty of P250 per MT (metric ton) or P10 per 40-kg (kilogram) bag for the first year of the implementation to encourage and challenge the local cement industries to be globally competitive,” the DTI said in a statement.

This amount is lower than the Tariff Commission’s recommendation to apply a safeguard duty of P297 per MT or P12 per 40-kg bag on imported cement, which it determined as a “like product” to domestic cement, or the Type 1 and Type 1P products.

The Tariff Commission also recommended the definitive safeguard measure be applied for three years, starting from the date the provisional measures took effect.

For its part, the DTI said the amount of safeguard duty will be reduced for the second and third years of the implementation.

“Thus, it is recommended that the amount of the safeguard duty be reduced to P9.00 per 40-kg bag for the second year and to P8.00 per 40-kg bag for the third year,” the department said.

“A yearly review shall be conducted to determine the appropriateness of the safeguard duty,” it added.

The DTI said it had taken into account public interest in the decision on whether to impose safeguard measures and has considered other factors that will assist the local industry and will benefit the consumers and end users.

“Likewise, the safeguard level aims to minimize the impact to prices for buyers and users while addressing the industry injury issue, while still encouraging local manufacturers to continuously pursue efficiencies to be more globally competitive,” it said.

Earlier this year, the DTI imposed a provisional safeguard duty of P210 per MT or P8.40 a bag, which will take effect until Sept. 10.

Under Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act of 2000, a provisional duty can be imposed by the DTI under “critical circumstances where a delay would cause damage which would be difficult to repair, and pursuant to a preliminary determination that increased imports are a substantial cause of, or threaten to substantially cause, serious injury to the domestic industry.”

While it is also mandated to protect consumers, the DTI said there is a need to balance this taking into account other sectors such as investors and industry which provide employment to Filipinos.

“If local manufacturers can adequately supply domestic requirements, they need to be provided a level playing field to enable them to compete with imports. This will allow expansion of the country’s manufacturing base and generate more jobs for Filipinos,” it said.

“Further, users of cement retain their option to choose between the local and imported cement since imports will still be allowed. The imposition of a safeguard measure is not expected to cause a shortage of cement in the domestic market considering that the cement manufacturers have sufficient capacity to meet domestic demand,” it added. — VVS





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