Big cement manufacturers allow inspection of imported products
Three of the country’s biggest cement manufacturers have offered to waive their exemptions from inspection procedures for their imported cement shipments, the head of Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (Cemap) said.
In a letter dated August 24 and addressed to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Cemap president Ernesto M. Ordoñez said Cement Philippines, Inc., Cemex Holdings Philippines, Inc. and the Republic Cement Group have agreed to subject themselves to the same rules currently imposed on importers.
This comes on the heels of complaints surrounding department administrative order (DAO) 17-02, as amended by DAO 17-05, which requires cement imports to secure an import commodity clearance (ICC). However, those imported by manufacturers with operating integrated cement plants here are not covered.
Ordoñez said cement manufacturers were being treated differently than other firms that purely import their products “because of their lower risk category consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.”
The industry head said he personally spoke to the chief executives of the three companies.
He said he also reached out to Holcim Philippines, Inc., which has yet to give a position on the matter.
Given this, “Cemap cannot take an official position until there is unanimity,” Ordoñez said.
“In essence, Taiheyo, Cemex, and Republic are willing to undergo the same shipment inspection as the traders,” he added.
Moreover, Ordoñez also said in the letter that the three cement companies’ sampling and testing of imports should be conducted in the Philippines and should conform to Philippine National Standards (PNS) before being released to the market.
Converting test results using standards from other countries to local PNS “may not be accurate,” he said.
He also said not to rely on Pre-Shipment Quality Inspection (PSQI), which is done at the cement’s point of origin or manufacture overseas, because of integrity concerns.
The initiative on the part of cement manufacturers comes more than a week after the DTI issued a draft DAO which was supposed “to clarify and resolve certain procedural issues” surrounding DAO 17-02, as amended by DAO 17-05.
The draft DAO, posted on the website of the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards on August 14, omits the provision that currently allows an exemption for cement manufacturers with integrated cement plans from having to secure an ICC.
The Philippine Cement Importers Association (PCIA) called the draft a “welcome development,” but the group was staying cautious ahead of the final form of the document.