Cement makers buck minimum requirements for pre-shipment inspection of imports

(The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The country’s major cement executives, including tycoon Ramon Ang, have expressed opposition to the proposed minimum requirement of pre-shipment inspection for cement imports as they call for a rigorous testing procedure for all cement coming from abroad to ensure consumer safety.

In a letter signed by Eagle Cement president and chief executive officer Paul Ang, on behalf of his father and the company’s chairman, the firm called on the government to come out with revised rules and guidelines for the cement industry.

These rules, the firm said, must foster a level playing field and ensure high regard for quality and environmental protection.

“Eagle Cement Corp. stands against the possible minimum requirement of a pre-shipment inspection as the substitute for testing cement imports upon arrival in the Philippines. We believe that any diminution of the minimum quality standards of cements products, as imposed, would pose a great risk to the entire industry and to the clients it serves – the Filipino people,” it said.

“In this regard, we respectfully propose that all cement players, whether a manufacturer or a mere trader, should be required to have their imported cement duly tested at the port. We cannot underscore the importance of doing a local test as a crucial safeguard for consumers’ safety and lives,” Eagle Cement said.

The company likewise raised the issue of technical smuggling of cement which they said must be addressed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along with other concerned government agencies.

“We sincerely hope that the DTI can effectively move to stop such practices of undervaluation or tax evasion of importers by updating standard rates. The setting of specific benchmarks for cement and freight costs for each country of origin may be another option to consider,” it said.

In separate letters to DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Taiheiyo Cement Philippines president and CEO Satoshi Asabi, Mabuhay Filcement Inc. CEO Enrison Benedicto, incoming Republic Cement president Nabil Francis and Cemex Philippines president Ignacio Mijares also said a “pre-shipment inspection only” rule cannot substitute for testing imports upon arrival in the Philippines to ensure quality and safety.

They likewise reiterated their call to the DTI and the Bureau of Customs to jointly address technical smuggling.

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