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Study competitiveness of RP industries, GMA tells Roxas, Canlas

- Marichu A. Villanueva1 () - April 18, 2002 - 12:00am
President Arroyo has directed Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Economic Planning Secretary Dante Canlas to study the competitiveness of Philippine industries, especially cement manufacturing, and not to leave this task to their respective bureaucrat-technocrats who look at the problems from their "ivory towers."

President Arroyo disclosed in a radio program yesterday she has given these instructions to both Roxas and Canlas, who is also the director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), to guide the government in formulating a policy decision on whether or not to continue the safeguard tarrifs for the local cement industry.

The President earlier supported the position of Roxas who said he was inclined to continue granting tariff safeguards to the local cement industry contrary to the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.

"I have told Sec. Roxas and Sec. Canlas that they themselves, at their level, (must) study this and not leave it to their bureaucrats who only know about the technical aspects and just study the problem from their ivory towers," President Arroyo pointed out.

"Because I have already said even then this is not only a study for the cement industry but it’s part of the overall study on the competitiveness of our other industries to classify them into four categories," the President said.

The four are: those industries – that are already competitive; industries that are not yet competitive but which can be assisted by the government to be competitive; those industries that cannot be competitive but need safety nets in the meantime that the workers have yet to be re-employed to other industries; and, those industries that are not competitive and will not become competitive but will not seriously affect the others.

"So we must conduct a study to determine where the cement industry falls… so that we shall know what policy to adopt," President Arroyo said.

Although the Philippines has actively been involved in the global free trade, President Arroyo pointed out her administration is not in favor of "unbridled globalization" or free flow of imported goods and services into the country without any "safety nets" for the affected local industries like cement.

This was why, the President said the DTI secretary imposed last year an "Anti-import surge" tariff as a "safeguard" for the local cement industry.

Speaking in her fortnightly Radyo Bombo program, President Arroyo clarified that the "safeguard tariff" was just a temporary measure imposed by the government to help prevent an import surge on cement products.

"This (safeguard tariff) is different from protection which is permanent," the President pointed out.

ALTHOUGH THE PHILIPPINES BECAUSE I CEMENT ECONOMIC PLANNING SECRETARY DANTE CANLAS INDUSTRIES NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PRESIDENT PRESIDENT ARROYO RADYO BOMBO ROXAS AND CANLAS
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