Pivotal victory

The local cement industry collectively heaved a sigh of relief after the release of the 11 October Tariff Commission ruling to maintain anti-dumping duty on cement imported from Vietnam for five years.

This comes after an earlier report of the commission recommending the non-extension of safeguards on the local industry against all cement imports.

The TC report covered 20 Vietnamese exporters that the Cement Manufacturers of the Philippines complained about as the source of the influx of cement at dumping prices.

Bureau of Customs figures showed that 91 percent of cheap cement imports come from Vietnam.

TC said not all Vietnamese companies will be slapped with the anti-dumping duty and the rates will vary based on the determination of injury to the local industry, based on each product of an offending company.

The TC reported that the threat of material injury to the domestic cement industry is imminent from dumped imports from Vietnam.

Vietnamese companies have been ramping up production that is mostly intended for overseas markets.

Industries in Vietnam have complained that prices of cement are even higher than those shipped abroad.

The Vietnamese government, thus, is imposing an export duty to prompt its manufacturers to sell more to the local market and drive down prices.

Based on the TC report, Phinma supplier Vissai Group Is one of the companies slapped with the levy of $4.78 per metric ton.

Republic Cement & Building Materials Inc., CEMEX — Solid Cement Corp./Apo Cement Corp., and Holcim Philippines Inc. filed the anti-dumping petition.

Provisional anti-dumping duties are imposed on nine Vietnamese exporters. Type 1 blended cement has a punitive rate that ranges from $1.02 per metric ton to $10.53/MT, or 2.69 percent to 31.87 percent of the export price.

Dumping duties on Type 1P (Portland) cement exports range from $1.16/MT to $12.79/MT, or 3.80 percent to 29.20 percent of the export price.

The TC denied the petition of cement firms to extend the blanket safeguard measures that expire on 22 October.

Earlier, cement makers warned ending the tariff shield on the domestic industry will discourage investments and may result in massive layoffs when local factories cut down on costs.

The influx of cheap cement primarily from Vietnam had placed in jeopardy a P60-billion expansion and modernization program of the industry.

An industry official said leaving the domestic industry without government support merely reinforces import dependency which “is not good for our economy.”

Industry leaders hail the most recent TC ruling saying the safeguards were very effective in tempering imports from China, Thailand, Japan, and other Asian countries except for Vietnam.

“The domestic industry needs more time to invest and modernize. We are just recovering from the pandemic but also facing now an energy crisis,” according to a stakeholder.

He added that the deluge of cheap Vietnamese cement makes the local industry very vulnerable to imports, especially at a time when energy prices are at their highest. “Cement manufacturing is energy intensive,” the source pointed out.

The TC decision breathes new life into the local industry which for the past few years have been strangled by cut-throat competition from Vietnamese producers.

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