Cement manufacturers said they support President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s move against flooding the domestic market with imported commodities that may hurt local manufacturers of like products.
“Like our peers in the sugar sector, we welcome the President’s action against the flood of imported products,” said Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) executive director Cirilo Pestano.
He cited the uproar caused by the proliferation of imported carrots and other vegetables and the issue of sugar importation.
Pestano said the President had shown wisdom in taking the position that a careful balance must be attained between protecting consumers against rising prices of basic commodities and ensuring the viability of local industries.
“We hope that the Marcos administration would extend this policy to other local industries that are facing equal serious threats from the influx of imports,” he added.
CeMAP had previously sought the assistance of the Tariff Commission (TC) to impose anti-dumping duties against Type 1 and Type 1P cement imports from Vietnam, and to extend the safeguard measures slapped against cement imports in 2019, bound to expire on October 2022.
The group told the Tariff Commission that despite the safeguard measures, the volume of imports increased at dumped prices.
Republic Cement and Building Materials, Inc. said in one of the public hearings that despite constant innovation and operational improvements they made, increasing imports caused sustained injury to the company.
Meanwhile, Holcim Philippines, Inc. noted that the volume of imported cement continues to increase and at lower prices at the retail level notwithstanding increases in the prices of fuel and energy.
The share of imports to domestic production in terms of volume increased steadily from zero in 2013 to 5.3 million metric tons (MT) in 2019, increasing further to 6.88 million MT in 2021.
On the other hand, the percentage in the share of imports to domestic production rose from zero in 2013 to 26.09 percent in 2019, rising further to 38.42 percent in 2021.
CeMAP’s data indicate that as of 2021 around 91 percent of cement imports were from Vietnam.
The petitioners also underscored that imports volume grew even if local demand for cement never outpaced domestic supply despite work stoppage caused by the pandemic.
With the Ukraine-Russia war fanning record-high prices of fuel and energy—which account for around 70 percent of the cost of cement cash production cost—the petitioners stressed that the local industry needs effective and more permanent protection from unfair trade practices involving imports to survive and stay competitive.
The Tariff Commission has concluded its hearings on CeMAP’s twin petitions and is expected to come out with a ruling soon.