By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Philippine cement manufacturers on Friday expressed their gratitude to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez for imposing safeguard measures on imported cement.
“The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) wishes to thank you for your decision to impose a provisional import duty of P8.40 per bag on cement imports,” said Renato Sunico, CeMAP Chairman and President, in a letter to Lopez.
The decision was reached after a DTI probe initiated last September found the volume of imported cement to have drastically surged since 2013, while causing injury to the Philippine cement industry and threatening the employment of tens of thousands of Filipino workers.
“The stakeholders of our members appreciate your support to the Cement Industry in its efforts to modernize and increase cement production capacity in the near and long term to ensure adequate supply in meeting the projected increase in demand from both private and government projects.”
The Philippine domestic cement industry has more than enough production capability to meet current national demand.
CeMAP maintains there is currently an installed and operating capacity of 34.5 million tons or about 862 million bags of cement annually. On top of this, manufacturers also continue their various expansion projects that will be completed in 2019 and in the next three to five years to continuously meet demand in the future.
In the short to medium term, incumbent cement manufacturers are projecting up to 17 million tons in added capacity, which can translate to more than 110,000 jobs.
Safeguards were deemed necessary by the DTI after industry data showed an unprecedented volume of imported cement which swiftly rose from 3,558 metric tons in 2013, to over 3 million MT in 2017.