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Glass maker fulfills safeguard duty requirement

Post Time:Oct 19,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:477

THE TARIFF Commission has declared that the country’s sole glass pane manufacturer — which constitutes the local "industry" — has complied with a requirement that it implement a program to boost its competitiveness, in exchange for the safeguard duty slapped on competing imports.

This is one of the two conditions the industry must fulfill for the safeguard duty to be extended past its expiry this Dec. 8.

The state agency did not declare whether imports continue to threaten injury to the local industry — the second condition for extension — but noted that the market share of foreign-made glass panes declined last year.

This comes as the Tariff Commission has slated a public hearing this week on whether to again extend an order imposing safeguard duties on the goods. The state agency first imposed the duties in 2004 and renewed it for 2006-2009.

The hearing this week will pit local manufacturer AGC Flat Glass Philippines, Inc. — formerly called Asahi Glass Philippines — against foreign firms and Philippine-based importers.

"The domestic flat glass industry has complied substantially with its commitments as stated in the adjustment plan," the state agency said in a report, dated Oct. 12, that was posted on its Web site.

AGC Flat Glass Philippines has simplified the variety of glass stocks it manufacturers, undertaken power efficiency measures, invested in new machinery and expanded into making solar glass panels to boost its competitiveness, the commission noted.

The state agency, however, did not make a definitive statement whether imports continue to threaten injury to the local manufacturer, another condition that would have made the case for retaining safeguard duties against imports.

Instead, it noted that the volume of imported flat glass dropped 6.77% to 15,179 tons in 2008 from yearago levels. Imports’ market share last year stood at 13%, down from 18% in 2007.

The local manufacturer’s production and sales of flat glass, often used to assess the impact of competition from imports, had meanwhile risen 32% and 38% respectively. The plant’s capacity utilization stood at 83.05% last year, better than the 62.8% recorded in 2007.

The picture was different for figured glass: imports of these more than doubled (121%) to 20,300 tons in 2008 after AGC Flat Glass Philippines stopped producing this variant in 2007.

Based on these data and information gathered at the week-long hearing which kicks off today, the commission will make a recommendation to the Trade department.

The safeguard duty, in place for six years now, can be extended for four years upon the department’s discretion, as stated by the Safeguard Measures Act and its implementing rules.

Importer Comglasco Aguila Glass Corp. had opposed such extension, arguing this would "further the monopoly of [the petitioner]...and the consumer will be forced to purchase more expensive glass."

The safeguard duty on imported clear float glass stands at P3,583 per ton and P4,526 per ton for the tinted variant. The duty on figured glass, meanwhile, was suspended when the local manufacturer stopped producing this type.

Source: www.bworldonline.comAuthor: shangyi

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