Import tariff lifting fails to reduce prices, Philippines

Import tariff lifting fails to reduce prices, Philippines
Published: 09 March 2009

Cement prices in the Philippines remain high despite the lifting of tariffs on imported cement, but the government has said duty free importation has helped stabilised prices, according to local press reports.

Steel, Angles, Shapes and Sections Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (SASSMAPI) Spokesperson Al. S. Tatel said the only construction material that has not decreased its price is cement. He said that despite the slowdown in demand, cement firms operating in the country continue to maintain their high prices.

He said they cannot explain why the cement firms all decided to keep their prices at high levels even if they are experiencing declining sales as evidenced by their decision to cut cement production for this year.

Trade and Industry Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said the zero tariff has kept the prices from increasing. “Now the price is not moving,” she explained.

The government has lifted the tariff on imported cement in a bid to allow consumers access to cheaper cement.

The cement industry criticised the government for removing the tariff on imported cement warning that the industry may suffer losses of up to PHP20bn if sub-standard cement is dumped into the country.

In spite of the high cement prices, Tatel said other construction materials have decreased their prices by as much as 60 per cent.