The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines, or Cemap, has asked the government to extend by another four years the so-called safeguard tariff imposed on imported cement to ensure the viability of the local cement industry.
Cemap President Felix Enrico Alfiler told reporters that cement makers have asked the Department of Trade and Industry, or DTI, to extend the tariff of PHP15.60, imposed on every 40-kilogram bag, by four years when it expires Friday.
"We want it extended until December of 2008. The reasons when the safeguard duties were granted in 2001 still remain right now," Alfiler said.
The DTI had imposed a PHP20.60 extra tariff on every bag of imported cement to safeguard the local cement industry against the influx of imported cement, which are being sold at prices below production cost in exporting countries. The tariff was cut to PHP15.60 a bag in March this year.
Alfiler said the extra tariff is still needed to protect the Philippines from dumping of excess cement capacity in the Asia-Pacific region.
The DTI has yet to decide on Cemap’s request, but appears likely to agree to the extension. Earlier this week, the department endorsed the Cemap petition, which it then submitted to the Tariff Commission.
The commission is set to hold public hearings next week, after which it will submit its recommendation to the DTI Secretary. The DTI chief will then make a decision on the tariff.