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The local cement industry is taking the fight against Vietnam’s dumping to the next level.

MANILA – In the face of accusations over ongoing cement dumping from Vietnam, the local cement production industry finds a common voice in Republic Cement.

The ongoing dumping of cement imports from Vietnam has caused material harm to domestic firms, according to Republic Cement.

Reinier Dizon, Republic Cement’s vice president for Strategy & Business Development, testified before the Tariff Commission on June 3 that cement imports from Vietnam had had a significant impact on his company’s volume of sales and pricing.

The commission is in the second day of public hearings on local cement manufacturers’ request for decisive anti-dumping sanctions against Vietnam’s Type 1 and Type 1P cement.

The detrimental impact of cement imports from Vietnam on Republic Cement, according to Dizon, is backed by confidential data on the company’s sales volume provided to the commission for its consideration.

“Pricing is a product of demand and supply,” Dizon continued, “but our pricing has been influenced by imports at subsidized prices across the country.”

While the cost of energy, mostly coal and other fuels, which account for roughly 70% of Republic Cement’s production costs, is always growing, he said they are unable to pass the cost on to consumers due to the fierce competition posed by dumped cement from Vietnam.

“Coal prices have skyrocketed, but we can’t pass the expense on to our customers.” “We’re losing income and volume,” Dizon explained.

While he acknowledged that Republic Cement’s profit situation improved marginally from 2017 to 2020, he explained that this was due to the company’s investment of around PHP10 billion in operational improvements.

“However, our income was still stifled due to imports at subsidized prices,” Dizon said.

The dumping of cement from Vietnam, according to Dizon, has reduced the capacity utilization of Republic Cement’s plants by 5% in 2019 and 19% in 2020.

Although the Covid-19 outbreak may have played a role in reducing capacity, Dizon stated that it was “mostly due to imports” from Vietnam.

He noted that the government’s lockdown or Enhanced Community Quarantine procedures forced the closure of four of their Luzon factories, while other units remained operational.

“The factories in Cebu and Iligan were allowed to continue operating, but we had to shut them down in Luzon.” We still had plenty of product, so when we were given permission to sell, we were able to do so,” Dizon explained.

What made things worse, according to Dizon, is that instead of selling more, Republic Cement discovered that the market was “suppressed.”

“Despite the lockdown, imports continue to flow into the nation in Luzon. They have an edge because their cement manufacturing in Vietnam was not subject to the same restrictions as ours. As a result, we suffered more because our hands were cuffed during that duration, at least in Luzon,” he stated.

Dizon believes there is a legitimate foundation to believe that other local cement makers are also suffering from the impact of unrestricted cement imports from Vietnam, based on his experience in the business.

“This is not unique to Republic Cement because we operate in this country alongside other companies.” As a result, it’s natural to believe and deduce that Republic Cement isn’t the only company dumping cement in the country,” he stated.

He went on to say that non-members of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) are also supporting the petition for the application of a definite anti-dumping charge on cement imports from Vietnam.

Ignacio Alejandro Mijares, CEO of Cemex Holdings Philippines, also testified. Similarly, Mijares stated that the dumping of Vietnamese imports has affected their volumes, prices, and overall financials.

Earlier in his evidence, CeMAP Executive Director Cirilo Pestano stated that non-members of the organization, Eagle Cement Corporation, and Northern Cement Corporation, support the anti-dumping lawsuit.

Pestano said before the commission that by 2021, Vietnam will account for 91 percent of cement imports in terms of volume and value, up from near nil in 2013.

He went on to say that the increase in cement imports from Vietnam outpaced the Philippine market’s year-on-year (YOY) growth. Cement imports increased from 2.486 million metric tons (MMT) in 2017 to 5.396 MMT in 2020 and 6.466 MMT in 2021, according to a graphic published by CEMAP.

The public hearing will continue in the coming days, and opposition witnesses, including importers and Vietnam exporters, will be present.

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