IMPORTERS disputed claims that their cement fails to meet regulatory standards, noting that Vietnamese cement in particular meets government standards.
“All legally-imported cement retailed in the Philippine market is guaranteed to meet stringent quality controls. Our members import cement from various countries, including Vietnam. But wherever imported cement is sourced, we wish to stress that imported cement undergoes a three-tier quality control procedure mandated by (Department of Trade and Industry),” the Cement Importers Association of the Philippines (CIAP) said in a statement over the weekend.
According to news reports and online rumors, substandard Vietnam-sourced cement is proliferating in Philippine markets.
CIAP said quality controls imposed by DTI on imported cement are more stringent than those for domestic cement, whose manufacturers undergo one annual audit.
“Although the ideal situation is for unannounced audits, local manufacturers undergo only once-a-year audits and the audits are even announced and mutually scheduled. In other words, cement products of local manufacturers are tested only once a year,” CIAP said.
“On the other hand, for imported cement, each and every batch is tested by the DTI. If there is more than one batch in one shipment, we are required to provide samples for each batch for DTI to test,” it added.
The group noted that repeat orders from customers who have used imported cement for their projects show that “imported cement can be far superior to locally-manufactured cement.”
Under DTI Department Administrative Order (DAO) 17-06 issued in 2017, cement can only be imported from manufacturing plants that have been pre-screened and have passed stringent accreditation standards, which is the first stage of DTI’s quality control procedures.
Upon accreditation, foreign plants are given a Philippine standards (PS) quality mark and/or a safety certification (SC) mark. All cement destined for the Philippines must carry the PS or SC mark on the packaging.
On behalf of DTI, accreditation is undertaken by international organizations such as Société Générale de Surveillance or TUV Rheinland, among others, which conduct factory and product audits to ensure compliance with Philippine standards.
Upon arrival at Philippine ports, imported cement undergoes post-shipment inspection and testing for quality confirmation conducted respectively by the Bureau of Customs and the DTI.
The Philippines has seen a surge in cement imports in recent years due to rising demand, which CIAP claims cannot be met by domestic manufacturers.
CIAP members account for more than 50% of the volume of cement imports. — Janina C. Lim