By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
May 25, 2010, 5:02pm [ Manila Bulletin Online ]
Malacañang Tuesday approved the removal of the 7 percent tariff on HRC and CRC coils, raw materials for the production of downstream steel products such as galvanized iron sheets, to stem an increase in prices of steel products.
The approval was made during the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board meeting in Pampanga. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is chair of the NEDA Board. The removal, however, of the 7 percent import duty is only temporary. The import duty will revert back to 7 percent once Global Steel Philippines Inc. (GSPI) goes back into full commercial operation.
The lifting of the steel tariff was meant to cushion the impact of increasing steel prices in the international market to local steel products.
Trade and Industry Secretary Jesli A. Lapus, who backed the removal of the 7 percent tariff, said that local steel firms are just holding off the estimated 3 to 5 percent price increase because of the government commitment to lift the import tariff on their raw materials, which have now reached $800 per metric tons from $600 tons.
The Indian-owned GSPI, the country’s supposedly biggest midstream steel producer, was opposed to the lifting of the tariff, but Lapus said that GSPI should shape up first before it can extend tariff protection.
“We cannot protect a company that is not operating commercially,” Lapus told reporters.