A victory for consumers | Philstar.com
After weeks of hearings and investigations into the matter, the Tariff Commission (TC) has issued two controversial orders with far-reaching effects expected not only on the local cement industry, but also on cement users and on the whole economy.
The former lifted an additional three-year special safeguard duty imposed on certain types of imported cement to prevent local cement manufacturers from an unhealthy increase in imports, while the latter imposed a new five-year anti-dumping duty on cement imports from Vietnam.
Safeguard duties are authorized and imposed by the government when an industry suffers the negative effects of an unforeseen, sharp and sudden increase in imports. Meanwhile, anti-dumping duties are imposed on imports that are sold at less than the fair market value of like goods in the country of origin.
The imposition of safeguard duties and anti-dumping duties were among the concessions obtained by members of the World Trade Organization in exchange for the liberalization of imports or the lowering of tariffs and regular customs duties – essentially in exchange for liberalizing trade or opening their markets to other countries. But safeguard and anti-dumping duties cannot be used indirectly by any country as a barrier to imports.
In 2019, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on the recommendation of the TC, imposed a definitive safeguard duty on cement imported from various countries for three years or until October 2022. The safeguard duty for the third year was P200 per metric ton or P8. per kilo bag of imported cement. Under RA 8800 or the Safeguards Act, the DTI is mandated to protect domestic industries from serious harm caused by import surges.
The objective was to provide temporary relief to the domestic cement industry while it undertook measures to enhance its competitiveness within the framework of trade liberalization.
And then, in December 2021, the DTI imposed an additional provisional anti-dumping duty on certain types of cement imported from Vietnam following allegations that these imports are being sold here at dumped prices. Vietnamese vendors have been found to introduce cement into the Philippines at a price lower than the price at which these items are sold in Vietnam. Some countries resort to dumping to get rid of excess supply.
The safeguard and anti-dumping duties were imposed following a petition by the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CMAP) whose members claimed that this increase in imports as well as the entry of cement dumped would endanger their business, jeopardize the jobs of its workers and reduce government revenue.
But the safeguard duties were only until this month and so the group has asked for an extension of the period for the imposition of the duties, saying that despite these additional duties, import levels are still high and that the amount of the duty is not sufficient to curb this surge.
But the TC recommended not extending the definitive safeguard measures on imports of Type 1 ordinary Portland cement and Type 1P blended cement.
He said that during the review period from 2019 to 2021, the domestic cement industry maintained its market position, increased crushing capacities, stabilized manufacturing costs and improved profitability. He added that the industry was able to return to pre-pandemic levels of profitability in 2021 and that during the said period there was no significant overall deterioration in the position of the industry which constituted serious prejudice.
The commission said failure to extend the safeguard measure would prevent price increases for local and imported cement, which in turn would have a positive impact on the growth of the construction industry, which is a major contributor to gross capital formation.
He added that healthy competition in the market will compel the local industry to continue to upgrade technological know-how and manufacturing facilities, boost operational efficiency, reduce costs and meet demand. not satisfied.
However, in another order, the TC ordered the importation of new anti-dumping duties on Vietnamese cement for a period of five years until 2027 after finding that there was an imminent threat of material injury to the local industry. due to substantial cement overcapacity in Vietnam, which could allow for a rapid increase in exports.
So basically what the TC is saying is that while our domestic cement industry can survive and has in fact thrived even amid the entry of imported cement being sold into the country at competitive prices because the reimposition safeguard duties to protect the cement industry imports would not be beneficial for the country and consumers, it is still no to the dumping of cement from Vietnam.
The EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy
The European Union unveiled its strategy for the Indo-Pacific region last year, partly in recognition of the region’s growing social and economic importance.
After all, the region is said to be home to more than half of the world’s population. China, Japan, South Korea and India are among the EU’s main trading partners and more than half of the world’s GDP is generated by the region. Trade between the EU and the Indo-Pacific is also the highest inter-regional volume in the world.
But the Indo-Pacific is also home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of challenges with global implications, including political, security and defense.
The EU, with the support of the EU Policy and Outreach Partnership in ASEAN countries, organized a forum titled “European Union Indo-Pacific Strategy: Ensuring Security and Prosperity for the future”, during which the EU Ambassador to the Philippines, Luc Veron, underlined that the EU wishes to work with its partners to uphold the principles of peace, stability, prosperity and respect for human dignity.
For her part, Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Director General of the European External Action Service in Asia-Pacific, underlined that following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the strategy can be used to maintain the international order based on rules, which would effectively allow the principles of democracy, international law, human rights and the rule of law to prevail.
Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Jesus Domingo meanwhile acknowledged the rich and enduring relationship that the EU and ASEAN have enjoyed over the past 45 years, the EU’s past efforts and contributions in the region and welcomed the EU cooperation strategy in the Indo-Pacific.
During the forum, Miriam College President and former Ambassador Laura del Rosario, Stratbase ADR Institute Managing Director Dindo Manhit, and Ateneo European Studies Program Director Manuel Enverga III discussed how the Philippines and ASEAN will benefit from the strategy, including in areas such as strengthening ocean governance in the region in full compliance with international law; strengthening, diversification and implementation of existing commercial relations; and working with partners to combat, mitigate and adapt to climate change.
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