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Lone flat glass maker sales drop 50% on imports rise

AJ Bajo



A drastic surge in imports, now a rather familiar story, has pained the country’s lone float glass manufacturer who believes that such pass through stringent standards test.

The country’s only flat glass manufacturer said it booked 50 percent lower sales in the January to November period this year from sales in the same period last year in the face of higher imports.
Pioneer Float Glass Manufacturing Inc. (PFGMI) said the decline arose from the removal of the construction material in the list of products required to undergo mandatory certification in 2015, and the subsequent injunction case pertaining to a department order prescribing new standards on flat glass products this year.

“(We’re) hooping this will turn around one day totally. Our importer competitors, they do not pay the right taxes,” PFGMI president Paul Vincent Go told reporters. PFGMI has a daily manufacturing capacity of 550 metric tons (MT).

“Last week there were five containers of glass which entered the market. The certificate of origin states it’s from Myanmar, but when the container was opened it was from China. Myanmar doesn’t have a plant for glass. It’s like a transshipment. There are many anomalies happening,” he said.

In consideration of an apparent surge in flat glass imports, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in March this year issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) 19-05 Series of 2019.
The DAO requires flat glass manufacturers, producers or importers to undergo a standards check with the DTI before their products are released.

However, an injunction case filed by glass traders with the Makati and Pasay regional trial courts hinders the DTI from implementing the mandatory product testing, Go said, adding this poses risks to consumer protection even with the provisional safeguard duties on flat glass imports the DTI wants to impose.

“The DAO includes market monitoring. The DTI also can’t do anything; they don’t have any activity because of the injunction. Because there’s a temporary restraining order… they don’t have any basis if, for example, they catch anyone, because the basis is under injunction,” he said.

In July, the DTI slapped provisional safeguard duties worth P2,552 per metric ton (MT) on clear float glass and P2,835 per MT on tinted float glass.

The measure comes after the trade agency’s preliminary probe on the increased circulation of flat glass products in the market from 2013 to 2018, which only slowed down in 2017 on the country’s imposition of an anti-dumping measure against China.

Citing data from the Bureau of Customs, the DTI said clear float glass imports surged 646 percent to 32,351 MT from just 4,337 MT in 2013. Imports sped up in 2015 to 2016, then falling 29 percent in 2017 amidst the anti-dumping measure. Imports again rose 65 percent in full-year 2018 and 48 percent in the first four months of 2018 vis-a-vis the same period last year.

The Tariff Commission is set to undertake its own investigation on the imposition of a definitive safeguard measure on imported flat glass.

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