DTI to impose additional ₱8.40 tariff on cement imports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — An additional ₱8.40 duty per bag of imported cement will soon be implemented, a Cabinet member said Thursday.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told CNN Philippines in a text message the move is an additional safeguard against further importation.

"That's a provisional safeguard measure… around Feb. 8 ang effectivity," Lopez said.

According to the World Trade Organization, a safeguard measure is an "emergency" action in response to higher imports of certain products. A government adopts such measures to protect its domestic industry from "serious injury" over the influx of imported items.

Asked about the possible impact of the tax at the retail level, Lopez said he expects prices to remain unchanged.

"We expect prices to stay still with more imports, no permits needed," Lopez said.

Tariff proceeds will fund the administration's aggressive Build, Build, Build program.

"Eventually after provisional measure, this becomes a revenue for government to support infrastructure," Lopez said.

He said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is getting in touch with newspapers to have the tariff order published as required by law.

The DTI will also coordinate with the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs to issue the corresponding Customs Memorandum Order.

According to data from the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA), prices of construction materials in Metro Manila rose by 8.1 percent in November 2018. Inflation rate of cement was at 2.5 percent.

This was higher than the 4.7 percent inflation rate of construction material in November 2017.

The PSA also reported that the country was at a $3.9-billion trade deficit in November 2018 as it imported more than what it sold abroad.

Raw materials and intermediate goods made up the bulk of November imports, followed by capital goods.

CNN Philippines business producer Jil Danielle Caro and digital producer Luchi de Guzman contributed to this report.