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Philippines slaps new tariffs on cement imports from Vietnam

By Hung Le   September 6, 2019 | 06:00 am PT
Philippines slaps new tariffs on cement imports from Vietnam
Workers load cement on a ship in northern Hai Duong Province. Photo by Shutterstock/Thi.
The Philippines has announced customs duty of 250 pesos ($4.81) per metric ton on cement imports, most of which are from Vietnam.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) of the Philippines recently said the measure is subject to annual review and would be in place for three years, decreasing by 25 pesos (48 cents) a year.

The duty, aimed at protecting domestic producers, will come into effect 15 days after its publication. It was prompted by a surge in cement imports as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s $180 billion "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program to attract more foreign investment and create new jobs, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Citing potential damage to the domestic cement sector, the DTI last year launched a probe into the increase in cement imports, which surged to around 3 million metric tons in 2017 from a mere 3,600 tons in 2013.

Vietnam accounted for 88 percent of the imports in 2016 and 72 percent in 2017. In the first four months of this year it accounted for 75 percent, China for 18 percent and Thailand for 6 percent, the DTI found.

The Philippines had in January imposed a provisional tariff of 210 pesos ($4.05) per ton until September 10 despite protests from Vietnam that it contravened World Trade Organization rules.

The DTI said Philippine law allowed for safeguard measures when its domestic industry suffered from serious injury due to a sudden and sharp increase in imports or even faced such a threat.

Vietnam has exported 15.59 million metric tons of cement and clinker this year for $666.82 million, up 1.3 percent in volume and 17.9 percent in value over the same period in 2018, according to Vietnam Customs.

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