PHL to initiate safeguard measures probe into iron, zinc imports

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THE Philippines has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) about its plan to investigate proposed safeguard measures on various iron and zinc imports at the request of its steel industry.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is evaluating possible safeguards on imported aluminum zinc sheets, coils and strips; prepainted galvanized iron and prepainted aluminum zinc; and galvanized iron sheets, coils, and strips.

The WTO was notified about the three possible investigations on June 19, the DTI said in a statement Tuesday.

Sonic Steel Industries, Inc. applied to the DTI for import safeguards on the aluminum zinc products, and Puyat Steel Corporation applied for safeguards on the galvanized iron products. Both companies applied for safeguards on the prepainted products.

Their applications claim that increased imports of the products have injured the local industry.

The Safeguard Measures Act or Republic Act 8800 authorizes the government to impose temporary safeguard duties on imports deemed to have injured domestic industry.

The DTI estimates that imported aluminum zinc products increased to 125,933 metric tons (MT) in 2018 from 770 MT in 2014. Import volumes rose to 98,386 MT in 2016 from 24,571 MT in 2015.

In the first 11 months of 2019, imports hit 122,232 MT.

Galvanized iron imports totaled 115,910 MT in 2015 from 18,500 MT a year earlier. Imports then increased to 237,633 MT in 2017, then to 299,142 MT in 2018.

In the eleven months to November, imports were at their peak of 355,000 MT.

Imports of the prepainted products fell to 143,735 MT in 2015 from 152,528 MT a year earlier. Import volumes then rose to 209,600 MT in 2016, dropped to 178,748 MT in 2017 before rising to 191,039 MT in 2019.

Import volumes in the first 11 months of 2019 hit 174,256 MT.

The companies claim declines in domestic employment and market share, with the exception of increased employment in galvanized iron production. — Jenina P. Ibañez