“These imported cement products will give consumers a good choice and hopefully will prompt local cement producers to lower their price,” he said.
The DTI official said that because of the cheaper Chinese cement, he heard reports that Holcim Philippines, which has cement plants in Davao City and Misamis Oriental, and other companies are considering a price reduction.
Holcim, which was then called Union Cement, was among the local cement companies under the Philippine Cement Manufacturers Corp. who strongly opposed the dumping of cheap imported cement from neighboring countries like Taiwan, Japan and Indonesia six years ago. Claiming that the cheap imports may cause the local plants to lose money and shut down operations, they were able to successfully lobby with government to impose tariff on the cement imports.
Mastura said the Chinese cement that entered Polloc were levied with the necessary customs charges.
A few months ago, cement shortage was experienced in Central Mindanao and ARMM, resulting in higher prices beyond the suggested retail price set by local manufacturers. But Holcim regional sales chief Ernesto Paredes later assured trade officials the company could supply the 70,000-bag daily requirement of Central Mindanao.
Mastura said half of the imported Chinese cement was brought to General Santos City for the expansion works at the fish port complex that is being funded with Chinese money.
“We hope this trade link would continue and other importers would follow suit. The shipment showed to other shippers that it is possible to directly use the Polloc port as an offloading point,” Mastura said.
Mastura said they hope export mango, banana, copra, activated carbon and other products to China. But MV Hofeng 7 left for China without carrying locally produced cargoes.
“What’s important is that we have already established a trade route to China,” he said.