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November 20, 2008

Philippines slashes tariffs on cement, flour
The Philippines will cut import duties of cement and flour, for a period of six months, to lower the market prices of these and related products, China’s Xinhua news agency quoted a government press release as saying Wednesday.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had signed two executive orders to slash tariffs, hoping that traders will return the gesture by cutting down the prices of the construction material and bakery products, the office of the president said in a press release.

After the cuts, certain cement products will enjoy zero tariffs.

"Upon the effectivity of this Executive Order, all articles listed in Annex'A' which are entered and withdrawn from warehouses in the Philippines for consumption shall be levied the MFN (most-favored nation) rate of duty of zero percent for six months, subject to further review," the press release quoted Executive Order 766 as saying.

It quoted Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as saying that it is important to ensure the stability of prices and adequacy of supply of cement for government's infrastructure programs, including low-cost/mass housing projects.

The Philippines currently imposes a 5.0 percent duty on cement imports and 3.0 percent on wheat for food.

The presidential directives came as the proposal to reduce tariffs on the two consumer goods remains pending in Congress.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila said the twin directives are part of government's intervention methods to ensure prices at affordable levels.

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