Cement manufacturers are pushing for a halt in cement imports, citing increased capacities to serve local demand and the industry’s depressed profits more than a year into the pandemic.
The Chamber of Cement Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. called on consumers, developers and the construction sector to patronize locally-produced cement.
“We have enough capacity, and we do not need to import. We’re hurting from the shrink on demand for cement. Some of our members, many are publicly-listed, announced declining profitability last year, given the pandemic,” CEMAP president Reinier Dizon said during a recent Senate hearing on cement and other essential commodities affected by the pandemic.
CEMAP data showed imports were growing by an average of 6 percent to 7 percent annually. In 2020, around 500 metric tons of cement arrived from Vietnam, which emerged as the biggest cement exporter in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam cement accounted for nearly 90 percent of total imports, CEMAP said.
“Unlike the Philippines’ wherein manufacturing operations were limited to food and medical essentials in the first few months in pandemic, Vietnam manufacturers were allowed to continuously operate. And their prices are very competitive compared to local cement,” Dizon said.
Vietnam produces 120 million MT of cement annually with rated demand of about half of its production capacity, based on industry data. Philippine production is about 36 million MT a year.
“Notwithstanding, the industry continued to provide employment to its employees and support to host LGUs. That’s one of our advocacies to really support the communities where we are operating from,” Dizon said.
Cemex Philippines, Holcim Philippines Inc. and Republic Cement Builders and Building Materials Inc. submitted a petition for anti-dumping investigation for cement products from Vietnam.
The products covered by the investigation are cement classified under AHTN Codes 2523.29.90 and 2353.90.00 .
Meanwhile, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. said consumers were patronizing imported cement because they are cheaper by as much as 15 percent compared to local cement.
“We are opposed to tariff protection in the forms of safeguard or dumping duties that are tacked on to the cost of the cement and the consumers pay for them in the end,” said LKI president Victorio Dimagiba.
“For imports to bear the safeguard and dumping duties, the tariff protection laws should be changed. Otherwise the poor consumers picks up the tariffs,” he said.