MANILA – Imported cement will be slapped a provisional P8.40 per bag duty equivalent to 4 percent of its cost to protect local manufacturers and ensure the commodity’s stable supply and price, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Thursday. The DTI said that cement imports increased from only 3,558 metric tons in 2013 to more than 3 million tons in 2017. The share of imports also increased from only 0.02 percent to 15 percent during the same period, leading to a 49 percent decline in manufacturers’ income in 2017. At present, there’s zero tariff on imported cement, the DTI said, which has put local manufacturers at a disadvantage. “With the elements of surge and injury clearly established, DTI is mandated to impose a safeguard duty,” the DTI said in a statement. Besides discouraging imports, the duties on cement will also encourage existing and new players to build additional facilities for domestic production, and address the country’s perennial trade deficits, the DTI said. “Again this is a provisional duty (effective for 200 days) in the form of cash bond on imported cement, while the Tariff Commission undertakes and concludes its formal investigation,” the DTI said. The agency estimates that current demand for cement is around 25 million metric tons, which can easily be met by domestic production capacity of 35 million metric tons.