Cement, steel prices are also rising

Prices of construction materials are rising, particularly cement and steel bars by as much as 25 percent higher, at a time when government is hearing a petition by the local cement manufacturers to extend the imposition of safeguard duty against imported cement.

The latest retail price monitoring of the Department of Trade and Industry showed that price of cement has gone up to P220 per 40 kilogram bag from P210 last week and P205 three months ago.

Sources said that distributor price for cement now hovers around P218-P220 per bag while retail price at hardware stores could have gone up to P230 to P240 per bag. Prices of steel bars are also rising 20 to 25 percent at retail outlets.

Importation is a tool to stem rising prices of domestically manufactured products. However, the petition by the local Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) asking for the extension of the safeguard duty on imported cement, which is set to expire in October this year, is expected to discourage importation of this major construction material. Under DAO 19-13, the safeguard duty for the third year of implementation or on its final year of implementation is P200 per metric ton or P8 per kilogram bag of imported cement.

The Tariff Commission commenced on Feb. 24, 2022 its formal investigation on the CeMAP petition for the extension of safeguard measure against importations of ordinary Portland cement type 1 under AHTN 2017 tariff heading no. 2523.29.90 and blended cement type 1P or AHTN 2017 heading no. 2523.90.00 from various countries , following a referral from the Secretary of Trade and Industry on Feb. 17, 2022.

At the virtual preliminary conference on Tuesday, March 8, the TC has set the timelines of the proceedings including the formal issuance of the Commission staff report on its investigation on March 18-24.

Stakeholders including importers are given up to March 31 to submit their comments, affidavits of witnesses and lists of additional issues to the staff report. The TC has also set public hearings on April 1, 4 and 7.

As expected, cement importers have expressed opposition to extending the cement safeguard measure.