Added duties on cement imports bad for gov’t infra projects

Added duties on cement imports bad for gov’t infra projects

MANILA — Cement importers and contractors cautioned that the imposition of safeguard duties on imported cement may delay the administration’s Build, Build, Build program, as another trade barrier can only serve to exacerbate effects of the current cement shortage.

On Wednesday, Philippine Constructors Association (PCA) Board Director Ferdinand Co said that imposing safeguard duties on imported cement will only raise its prices that could affect the projects of government and contractors.

Co added that the local production cannot keep up with the demand, hence, the need for importation.

Children at the Baseco Compound, one of the most populated areas in the metropolis, enjoy playing on top of large concrete drainage pipes in Tondo, Manila. PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan

He mentioned that current cement demand is around 30 million to 32 million metric tons (MT), but local production is only at around 25 million MT.

“Implementing safeguard duty that will be added in the cost of imported cement will naturally increase prices of cement because the capital will also rise,” Co said in Filipino.

He noted that construction companies are bound by contracts for their projects, and these contracts may not provide allowance for a sudden upsurge in prices of construction materials.

“They are tied to contracts. We don’t know if they can get additional adjustments if the prices of cement will increase and there will supply shortage,” Co added in Filipino.

“If there is shortage in supply, projects will slow down or stop,” he said.

Earlier, Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) said it supports the imposition of safeguard duties to ensure that cheap and low-quality cement imports are not being dumped in the local market.

“Philippine Constructors Association is saying that the public interest for the bigger construction industry should be considered, wherein that the cement supply is not enough to come in. Placing a safeguard duty is not conducive for us, because that will lessen the supply because of an increase of prices. And accordingly, because of that, the public interest has to be above the interests of a few,” said Co.

“The cement manufacturers are not losing money, it is provided in their financial statement that they are earning billions, so, we hope that DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) can evaluate all the numbers to be able to see that the industry is making money, at the same time, we hope that DTI will be able to see in their investigation that a safeguard duty is not needed to protect an industry that is making billions of pesos,” he said.