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DTI open to extending safeguard duty on cement

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is open to extend the provisional safeguard duty on cement if the Tariff Commission (TC) takes a longer time to decide on the issue.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters on Friday that they would study if it was possible to extend the P8.40 duty slapped per bag of imported cement beyond its prescribed timeline.

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The DTI slapped the provisional safeguard duty on imported cement in February, claiming that the local cement industry— which is largely composed of multinational companies—has been seriously injured by the surge of imported cement in the past few years.

The matter is currently being investigated by the Tariff Commission, which will then decide whether or not to impose a definitive duty. Meanwhile, the DTI’s order will only take effect for 200 days since it got implemented sometime in February.

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“We’ll review it if there’s a possible extension. If we’re allowed to do that, we can extend,” Lopez said.

It is not clear what will happen after the order expires without a TC decision. However, the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines asked the TC for an even higher definitive safeguard duty.

Manufacturers are seeking a higher tariff on imported cement after the latter’s import volume still grew in the first quarter despite the safeguard duty. Lopez, for his part, could not say if he agrees with the tariff hike.

“With our position, if at all, we can extend but I cannot say we can bring it higher,” Lopez said.

This is not the first time that a safeguard duty was considered against imported cement, but this is the first time that a safeguard duty case was filed, not by cement producers, but by the DTI.

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TAGS: Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), imported cement, Tariff Commission (TC), Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez
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