MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines stopped the importation of 20,000 metric tons (MT) Chinese steel bars, after a probe conducted by a local steel industry group showed they were "substandard."
A letter furnished to reporters showed that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) informed Mannage Resources Trading Corporation (MRTC) last December 8 of the recall of its Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) previously given to the company for its shipment of 20,000-MT imported Chinese steel bars. (READ: US Steel files complaint against Chinese steel imports)
DTI Regional Director Judith Angeles and Bureau of Philippine Standards Assistant Director Marimel Porciuncula told the MRTC that this is to "ensure that the shipment meets the required laws, rules and standards required for traceability, quality and safety."
Local group welcomes DTI call
The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI), the umbrella organization for the local steel industry, lauded the decision of the DTI to recall the import's certification.
PISI president Roberto Cola said in a statement on Tuesday, December 13, that the act of withdrawal was "in the interest of public safety" and in line with "the government and industry's policy of strictly enforcing the mandatory standards for steel products."
The local group said the DTI's recall and stricter implementation of mandatory standards is "welcome news to the consuming public," as this can lead to stopping the proliferation of uncertified and substandard steel bars in the market.
PISI said its probe into the October 2013 earthquake in Cebu and Bohol revealed "substandard and uncertified steel bars" were used in the damaged buildings and infrastructure.
"The Philippines is located in an earthquake zone and typhoon area, so the best disaster prevention is to prevent sub-standard mandatory steel products from being sold in the market," Cola said.
The PISI president added that the local industry "welcomes stricter implementation of standards to be applied to both locally manufactured and imported steel products for the benefit of the Filipino consumer."
According to PISI, about 80% of the country's steel product consumption in 2015 was imported from China.
"Consumption in the Philippines is 8.8 million MT in 2015 and 85% of it is from China," Cola had told Rappler.
PISI also said that the Philippines has no integrated steel mill capacity, compared to some of its neighbors.
Nicua Corporation, which was engaged in mining in Leyte, has proposed to develop a steel mill plant in the province, with an initial investment of $250 million, Philippine Star reported.