THE Tariff Commission will decide next month on the need to protect domestic cement manufacturers through the imposition of an increased safeguard duty on imported cement.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Tariff Commissioner Ernesto L. Albano said the decision will be issued in June as the commission seeks more information from stakeholders.
Mr. Albano added that the commission will take into account in its decision the reported surge of imported cement during the first quarter of the year, during which the provisional duty was implemented.
Manufacturers have sought a higher safeguard duty on imports, citing “serious injury” due to influx of foreign cement in the market.
Citing government data at the recent public hearing at the Tariff Commission, Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines Executive Director Cirilo Pestaño II said cement imports surged 64% year on year to 1.74 million tons, even after the imposition of the safeguard duty in mid-February.
As such, the group is seeking a safeguard duty that is higher than the P210 per ton posed by the Department of Trade and Industry.
CeMAP is composed of CEMEX Holdings Philippines Inc., Holcim Philippines Inc., Republic Cement Services, Inc., and Taiheiyo Cement Philippines, Inc.
In its road map completed last year, CeMAP expects cement demand in the Philippines to hit 52 million tons or 450 kilos per capita indicating an annual demand growth of about 7% between 2016 and 2025.
The current domestic capacity of all 20 producers was estimated at 34.5 million tons, according to CeMAP.
CeMAP said during the hearing it cannot provide production figures for the organization as members do not share such data.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has said that domestic capacity is at 35 million tons per year while current demand is at 25 million tons annually.
CeMAP said there are cement manufacturers currently undergoing expansion to meet expected demand.
The Tariff Commission gave five days through May 24 to hear stakeholders to determine whether there is a need for the duties. If it rules in favor, the agency can also raise or lower the definitive duty. — Janina C. Lim