By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Cement traders yesterday said that unless local cement plants can produce more to meet strong demand, they will continue to import to fill up the supply gap.
Napoleon Co, chairman of the Philippine Cement Importers Association (PCIA), said this following the issuance of final definitive safeguard duty of P10 per bag on the first year of implementation, P9 on the second, and P8 on the third or the last year of the order.
“Imports have been coming in not due to any price competition but local plants cannot meet demands,” said Co.
In 2018, cement demand in the country was placed around 34 million but local cement plants can only produce 28 million MT. This created more than 5 million MT shortfall in supply, which was filled up by imports of traders and domestic cement manufacturers, as well.
Co said that traders also adjusted their prices near import parity resulting in lesser profits.
“So, I expect some imports will continue until such time that local plants could produce more,” he said.
Co added that traders will focus to supply some islands with no cement plants such as Palawan, Panay and Negros.
Co, however, said that consumers will pay for the safeguard duty in terms of higher cement prices. He expects local cement manufacturers to also increase their prices.