The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has ordered an initial duty-free importation of 1m bags of cement by the state-owned Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) to be made available at cheaper price to both public and private projects signaling the government’s seriousness to provide competition to the expensive locally manufactured cement.
DTI Secretary Peter B Favila has already signed the order to PITC, the government’s trading arm, to make the imported cement available in time for the construction months next year. Massive infrastructure projects are taking place next year with the government’s allocating PHP300bn budget.
Japan is being eyed as the source of imports because the three major foreign cement firms – Holcim, Lafarge and Cemex have local manufacturing operations there and therefore cannot influence the price of imports.
Based on the DTI industry study, which quoted data from the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CMAP), the apparent demand (local production plus imports less exports) of cement from January to August this year was placed at 225 million bags.