Asahi Glass Philippines Inc. president Renato Ermita told reporters Monday that the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) and the Philippine Constructors Association Inc. (PCA) are strongly supporting the relief being sought by the company under Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act of 2000.
Asahi Glass Philippines, a unit of Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co. Ltd., has asked the DTI to slap safeguard duties on imported clear and tinted types of float glass, imported figured glass and glass mirrors. It argued that the unabated entry of imported glass products in the country has placed in peril the viability of the local glass industry.
In a letter to Bureau of Import Services director Luis Catibayan, FPI secretary-general Joseph Francia said the DTI should act on the petition filed by Asahi Glass to stem the tide of the undesirable effects of unbridled liberalization undertaken by previous administrations.
The predicament of Asahi Glass is connected with the decision of our government to unilaterally accelerate reduction of tariff rates. At the same time, some of our neighbors chose to maintain high rates, Francia added.
The Philippines has lowered its most favored nation rates on glass imports to 10 percent while other countries maintained high tariffs like Malaysia with 60 percent, Vietnam with 40 percent and Thailand with 30 percent.
He pointed out that local industries are having difficulty in competing globally because of high interest rates, power cost, shipping costs, as well as the absence of labor reforms and smuggling.
For his part, PCA president Emilio Tumbocon said the DTI should consider the interest of the Filipino consumers, not only the viability of contending business interests.
The DTI should not only focus on the financial effect to contending parties and the impact on labor and employment but must also consider the effects on existing government programs and future signals it gives to investors, Tumbocon stressed.
According to him, PCA remains committed to the tenets of free trade, liberalization and globalization. However, the group also advocates a level playing field in all industries and business endeavors both in the domestic market and the global arena.
The DTI has ordered an inquiry on the unabated influx of imports from various countries on the strength of the complaint filed by Asahi Glass Philippines.