Boosting PH Cement Industry – Manila Bulletin

“History is a great teacher,” said the late American civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech to a Federation of Labor convention in 1961. Earlier in 1948, speaking Speaking to the UK House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill paraphrased Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana when he said that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it “.

Recent remarks by a Filipino actress equating history with gossip have taken social media by storm and offended many historians in academia. Rightly so, because history as we know it is based on verified facts that have stood the test of time.

Take the case of Britain’s industrial sector at the end of the 19th century, when it dominated world trade. Its domestic industries had the lowest production costs and the most advanced manufacturing capabilities. At that time, the British government decided not to impose import duties on lesser economic powers such as Germany and the United States, while the latter imposed anti-dumping measures to protect their own industries.

Such measures have enabled the German and US economies to foster an environment of higher and continued levels of capital investment to improve production technologies. As a result, costs have been reduced while production and efficiency have increased, as well as the overall global competitiveness of products produced locally by these two countries for domestic and international markets.

The rest, as they say, is history – for the UK’s utter disregard for the pervasive dumping in its markets has been well documented. This was one of the contributing factors to the erosion of Britain’s industrial base in coal, textiles and iron. Its inability to generate capital for investment in then-coming industries like industrial chemicals, electrical goods, pharmaceuticals and special steel caused Britain to miss out on the second industrial revolution and mark the end of the British Empire.

In the 1990s, a World Bank economist, Dr. Joseph Michael Finger, argued that global free trade could flourish without government interference. “The most attractive option is to get rid of anti-dumping laws and put nothing in their place. Then all the evils of such a policy – ​​its power politics, its bad economy and its corrupt law – would be eliminated,” he married.

But the lessons of history can be used to present a compelling counter-argument as to why anti-dumping laws are essential for domestic industries. For example, increasing imports of Vietnamese cement and Thai sugar at dumped prices in the Philippines necessitate the imposition of higher tariff measures. Or do we simply allow our own local industries to erode or die without a fight?

Following continued threats to the existence of one of the country’s vital industries, several members of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) have filed trade remedies against some Vietnam exporters. They also called on the government to extend safeguards to promote a level playing field. According to CEMAP, the country has an internal capacity of 47 million tonnes which greatly exceeds local demand and reassures on the stability of cement supply.

In addition to preserving our dollar reserves, bailing out the cement industry will ultimately benefit the economy through job creation, increased tax revenue and independence from screw imports. If the government is determined to revive the sugar industry, why can’t it do the same for the cement industry?

J. Albert Gamboa is a life member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is Chairman of FINEX’s Media Affairs Committee and Editor-in-Chief of FINEX Digest. The opinion expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin. #FinexPhils



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