Undisclosed facts about Mannage steel imports

We write to react again to a BizBuzz item on July 18 regarding the steel bar imports of Mannage Resources Trading Corp., which claimed it is up against “unscrupulous” competition and that its shipment passed quality tests.

The shipment was indeed tested by TUV Rheinland and SGS-CSTC Standards and Technical Services Ltd in Shanghai, China.

What was not disclosed to Bizbuzz was that the Philippines’ Bureau of Product Standards declared the test report deficient and unacceptable.

Subsequently, when the shipment was tested locally under the supervision of the Zambales head of the Department of Trade and Industry, only three samples from the 5,000-MT shipment were taken, instead of the required 250 (or one sample per 20 MT). Of the three samples, only one was actually tested. More glaring, the test was done in secret, without witnesses from the customs bureau and from the industry, as required by law, to make sure the shipment was not substandard, for the protection of the public.

Because of this, former Customs commissioner Alberto Lina ordered the shipment’s seizure. However, his collector in Subic, who was initially for its seizure, defied his order.

To backtrack a bit, the DTI Zambales head issued a “provisional” import commodity clearance (ICC) for the release of the shipment, signing the same although she is not an authorized signatory. There is also no such thing as a provisional ICC in the same way that there is no provisional NBI clearance.

Now on the issue of “unscrupulous” competition, SteelAsia, the country’s largest steel bar producer, is open to competing with imports but on a level playing field. We have six plants, including one in Davao City which is among the most modern in the world. We plan to put up a seventh in Northern Luzon, which will be the world’s largest standalone and most modern plant. We invested billions of pesos in these plants and employ thousands of Filipinos. We are committed to our country and will cooperate in every way we can as a partner in its growth.

Mannage was put up only late last year and is capitalized at a mere P400,000. Its incorporation papers say its primary purpose is to trade in “food delicacies.” That is a big question mark when it comes to steel bar importation as is its use of Subic, a freeport, as a port of entry.

By importing, Mannage is promoting the employment of Chinese workers and worse, will be working against Philippine industrialization, an area where our country remains kulelat (tail-ender) in Asia.

SteelAsia wants to help industrialize the Philippines. We are efficient enough to compete with imports but only when the traders, the middlemen, play by the rules.

—MA. TERESA L. PACIS, assistant vice president, corporate communication, SteelAsia

READ NEXT

Editorial Cartoon, July 23, 2016

Outbrain