Cement manufacturers offer to undergo import shipment inspections

In a move aimed at fostering industry harmony and ensuring adequate supply for the Duterte government?s infrastructure push, three of the country?s biggest cement manufacturers have offered to waive their exemptions from inspection procedures for cement shipments which are currently required only from pure importers.

The offer was contained in a letter sent to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez on Thursday, August 24, by Ernesto M. Ordonez, president of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP), as the three companies? conciliatory positions on import procedures that have caused a running feud between manufacturers and importers.

?In essence, Taiheiyo (Cement Philippines, Inc.), Cemex (CEMEX Holdings Philippines, Inc.) and Republic (Cement Group) are willing to undergo the same shipment inspection procedures as the traders,? Ordonez told the DTI chief.

?I emphasize here that though they are allowed to be treated differently because of their lower risk category consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and even if it is the DTI position?the three companies are very willing to forego this justified different treatment. They are willing to go through the same import procedures that the traders undergo,? he added.

?This is to contribute to harmony in promoting consumer welfare,? said Ordonez.

The CeMAP president said the stance of Taiheiyo, Cemex and Republic are individual positions and do not reflect the entire association?s views, but that it is his duty to directly inform the DTI secretary of such development.

Ordonez also reiterated in the letter that the three cement companies sampling and testing of imports should be conducted in the Philippines either at the point of entry area, the importer?s declared warehouse, or silo and that the test results should conform to Philippine National Standards (PNS) before releasing the imported cement to the market.

He stressed the need for local testing and not to rely only on Pre-Shipment Quality Inspection (PSQI) done in the cement?s point of origin or manufacture overseas because of concerns over the integrity of such inspection and testing.

He likewise said conversion of testing results using standards in other countries to local (PNS) standards may not be accurate.

The position of the three local cement manufacturers was made as part of ongoing DTI studies and consultations on import procedures to ensure that cement from overseas sources are of high quality to protect consumers amid reports on the proliferation of expired, substandard and mislabelled cement in the local market.

DTI?s Lopez, a strong consumer protection advocate, has repeatedly said that stringent testing and import requirements are also needed to ensure adequate supply, and thus ensure price stability, as the government embarks on its aggressive infrastructure development program.