Trade department updates WTO on progress of aluminum, GI sheets safeguard probe

The Philippines has informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its safeguard investigation on aluminum and GI sheets after the domestic industry decried injured operations on alleged import surge of the metal products.

The Philippines informed the WTO on June 19 of its safeguard investigations against imported aluminum zinc (GL) sheets, coils and strips; prepainted GI and prepainted GL; and GI sheets, coils and strips. The petitions for safeguard were filed by local manufacturers Sonic Steel Industries Inc. (SSI) and Puyat Steel Corp.

A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to domestic industry.

During a safeguard investigation, importers and local manufacturers are summoned to present their evidence and views on whether to put a long-term safeguard on the subject product.

In a report on preliminary investigation, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) disclosed SSI and Puyat Steel petitioned for a safeguard investigation after their operations are allegedly stifled by the jump in imports of steel products.

According to the report, imports of GL sheets, coils and strips surged over 3,000 percent to 24,571 metric tons  in 2015, from just 770 MT in 2014. This went on to grow fourfold in 2016 to 98,386 MT in 2016, slightly increased by 7 percent to 105,224 MT in 2017 and rose by 20 percent to 125,933 MT in 2018.

“In 2019 January to November, imports was recorded at 122,232 MT or equivalent to 97 percent of 2018 level. Thus, in absolute volume, there has been a recent, sharp, sudden and significant increase in imports over the POI [period of investigation],” the DTI report read.

In a separate report, the DTI noted the increase in imports of prepainted GI and prepainted GL in 2016 and 2018. In 2016 imports of the products rose by 46 percent to 209,600 MT, from 143,735 MT in 2015, and it went up again in 2018 by 7 percent to 191,039 MT, from 178,749 MT in 2017.

“Over the five year period of 2014 to 2018, volume of imports of prepainted GI and prepainted GL showed notable increases in 2016 and 2018,” the report read.

As for GI sheets, coils and strips, imports of these products jumped six fold in 2015 to 115,910 MT, from just 18,500 MT in 2014. They further inflated in 2016 by over double to 284,346 MT; dipped by 16 percent in 2017 to 237,633 MT; but ballooned again by 25 percent in 2018 to 299,142 MT.

The DTI said the rise in imports of GI sheets, coils and strips are recent, sharp, sudden and significant that it deserves to be looked at and studied if there is a need for state intervention.


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