The Philippines has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) about its decision to impose a three-year safeguard measure on cement seen to hurt some of the country’s largest trading partners, including China and Thailand.
In a communication dated September 12, the Philippines notified the WTO of its move to apply a definitive safeguard measure on cement. It argued the increased imports between 2016 and 2018, as well as the continuous rise this year has seriously injured the domestic industry.
It added there was a significant decline in the overall position of local manufacturers during the period of the import surge.
“Based on import data from 2013 to 2018, the surge in imports of cement [Type I and Type IP] commenced in 2016. The increase in volume of imports in 2016 was recent, sudden, sharp and more importantly was of such magnitude which can be considered significant,” read the letter, which was transmitted to the WTO’s Committee of Safeguards.
As such, the Philippines said it decided to apply a definitive safeguard measure in the amount of P250 per metric ton, or P10 per 40 kilogram bag, for the first year; P225 per MT, or P9 per bag, for the second year; and P200 per MT, or P8 per bag, for the third year.
Manila assured the Geneva-based WTO it would regularly review the impact of the safeguard. The review should give the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) the opportunity to modify the amount of the duty if necessary.
According to the Philippines, the safeguard measure will mainly impact Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Thailand, which are heavy exporters of cement to the country.
Based on data from the DTI, imports of cement grew to nearly 300,000 MT in 2015, and spiked to 1.7 million MT in 2016, a close to sixfold increase from the prior year’s level. In 2017 imports expanded by another 77 percent and peaked at 4.6 million MT in 2018, which was the highest over the period of investigation.
The DTI’s applied rate is lower than the recommended duty of P297 per MT, or P12 per bag, of the Tariff Commission, which investigated for over half a year the merits of imposing a definitive safeguard measure on cement.