THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has recalled the import commodity clearance (ICC) previously given to Mannage Resources Trading Corp. (MRTC) pending verification that the latter’s import shipment of steel bars from China meets regulations.
In a letter dated December 8, DTI-Subic Regional Director Judith Angeles and Bureau of Philippine Standards Assistant Director/Officer-in-charge Marimel Porciuncula informed Lawrence Daniel Sy, president of MRTC, of the recall of the ICC previously granted to MRTC for its shipment of 20,000 metric tons (MT) of imported Chinese steel bars.
According to the letter, the ICC was withdrawn to enable the DTI to ensure that the shipment meets the required laws, rules and standards required for traceability, quality and safety.
The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI), the umbrella organization for the local steel industry, lauded the DTI’s decision.
Roberto Cola, PISI president, said the move 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.
DTI’s stricter implementation of mandatory standards is welcome news to the consuming public as this can lead to stopping the proliferation of uncertified and/or substandard steel bars in the market, the group said.
PISI’s investigations on 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 explained.
He 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.”
In November, the PISI brought to the attention of the Bureau of Customs the apparent undervalued freight costs of a shipment of 20,000 MT of reinforcing steel bars (rebars) from China.
A shipment of 20,000 MT of rebars arrived at the Port of Subic on November 2. The consignee, MRTC, declared in its import documents freight and insurance costs totaling P1.9 million, or less than $2 per ton in freight and insurance costs.
Cola said in his letter to Subic Port district collector Carmelita Talusan that prevailing freight and insurance rates are: China to Hong Kong, $9 per metric ton; China to Singapore, $15 per MT; and $18 to $25 per MT to the Philippines.
Freight and insurance costs form part of the basis of determining the duties an import shipment should pay.
Cola said that under the newly signed RA 10863 or An Act Modernizing the Customs and Tariff Administration, fraudulent declaration of import documents may result in the seizure and forfeiture of the imported goods.
Mannage was also involved in a controversial shipment of 5,000 tons of imported steel bars in May 2016 which was ordered held by Subic customs officials for lack of permits and a legitimate ICC.
Its ICC was signed by a Department of Trade and Industry official who was not authorized to sign.
The shipment was eventually released despite PISI pleas to have the rebars checked for safety. Local rebar manufacturers have to submit one sample per 20 MT of production for tests to protect public safety.
The Mannage imports should have had 250 samples but only three were taken and of which only one was tested.