The entry of foreign substandard steel and electrical products to local markets will lead to the disappearance of the small and barely surviving local steel industry unless addressed. We in Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People call on the government to support the local steel industry and create an economic environment favorable for its growth.
A draft department administrative order by the Department of Trade and Industry covering new rules on product-certification schemes grants foreign-owned steel plants the opportunity to use the Philippine Standard safety mark on their products, a privilege previously solely granted to Filipino-owned steel manufacturers. This is despite numerous documented cases of entry to Philippine markets of substandard steel that did not pass government safety standards.
In Luzon, 56 hardware stores in Pangasinan and La Union were found to be marketing substandard steel and electrical products. The situation is similar in Central Visayas where 21 hardware stores possessed defective angle bars. The initial culprits of the defective products are deemed to be steel importers, most notably from China.
The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute fears that the new order may lead to the influx of substandard foreign steel which will simultaneously subject local construction projects to safety issues and hinder the development of the Philippine steel industry.
It is ironic that the Philippine steel industry still faces issues such as this at present when Republic Act 7103, or an act strengthening the iron and steel industry, was already passed in 1991. The presence of various economic policies oriented toward further liberalization of vital and strategic industries blocks the steel industry’s opportunity to prosper.