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Roxas lowers safeguard duty on cement imports

- Marianne V. Go () - December 12, 2003 - 12:00am
Trade and Industry Secretary Manuel Roxas II approved yesterday the lowering of safeguard measures on imported cement and scrapped plans to allow the importation of one million kilos of chicken.

Roxas said that following a review of the data on cement production and prices, "we have concluded that the recent price increases are not warranted by the increase in factory inputs." "We are adjusting the safeguard measures accordingly," he stressed.

However, Roxas refused to reveal how much the reduction would be.

The current safeguard tariff on imported cement is P20.60 per 40 kilogram bag.

The Department of Trade and Industry, Roxas said, is still calculating the planned reduction.

He hinted, though that "it would be a meaningful reduction," "While we recognize the continuing need to help or protect the (cement) industry to preserve jobs and induce a hospitable business environment for them, the recent increase in prices, we viewed, is an indicator of the relative strength of the industry," he said.

Cement prices, Roxas said, has reached P150 per bag in certain areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Cement prices in Luzon, including Metro Manila, Roxas said, has gone up to P120 per bag from P100 to P115 per bag.

Roxas discounted the local cement companies claim that their factor inputs have increased.

"We don’t agree," Roxas said, "we find it hard to agree that they have no control in the price of distributors."

Roxas insisted that "the interests of the consumers need to be addressed."

On the other hand, Roxas said the proposal to import has been scrapped following the assurance of chicken growers that they would be able to supply 1.3 million heads to the market this month.

Roxas acknowledged that allowing the importation of chicken would not address the supply situation this month as the importation is likely to come in January.

"Chicken prices, anyway, have begun to stabilize," Roxas said.

BAG CEMENT CHICKEN DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY LUZON METRO MANILA PRICES ROXAS TRADE AND INDUSTRY SECRETARY MANUEL ROXAS VISAYAS AND MINDANAO
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