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Philippines Approves Safeguard Duty on Newsprint

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A recent report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Makati, Philippines, said the nation’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has issued an order imposing a definitive safeguard duty of P$980 per metric ton on imported newsprint, which was earlier found to be causing "serious injury" to the domestic newsprint industry.

The amount, however, was much lower than the P$2,470 per metric ton recommended by the Tariff Commission in a report it issued in February this year, said Luis M. Catibayan, director of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Import Services (BIS).

For the second and third years of implementation, the safeguard duty will be further liberalized and reduced to about P$800 per metric ton and P$640 metric ton, respectively. The adjustments, however, will still be subject to a review to determine whether there is a need to further change the amount, Catibayan said on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

According to Catibayan, the DTI decided to impose a much lower safeguard duty as it deemed the Tariff Commission’s recommendation to be too high that it might have an adverse impact on downstream sectors.

"The (DTI) secretary takes into account public interest. He has to establish that when imposing a measure, it has to be in the public interest and one of the considerations would be the effect on downstream industries that are using paper. We felt that the duty is high and will substantially impact the downstream industries. For instance, newsprint is used not only for newspapers but also textbooks. For textbooks that will be printed using newsprint and will be used by public schools, we are exempting those importation from the measure," Catibayan said.

"We also compared the market prices of the local production and those of the imports and we saw that the difference is not as high as the Tariff Commission had found out in their studies. We took a look at the data over a one-year period, while the Tariff Commission looked at a January to September data, so we had a wider coverage," he added.

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