PHL notifies WTO of safeguard measures probe into LPG steel cylinder imports 

THE Philippines has officially notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its plan to conduct a safeguard measures investigation into imported liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) steel cylinders.

“On April 4, 2023, the Philippines notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on April 4, 2023, a preliminary safeguard investigation on LPG cylinders,” the WTO said in its website.

The notification is required by Article 12.1 (a) of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, the Philippines said in its notice.

A WTO member is required to notify the Committee on Safeguards upon initiating an investigatory process relating to serious injury or threat thereof and the reasons for it; making a finding of serious injury or threat thereof caused by increased imports; and taking a decision to apply or extend safeguard measures.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced on March 29 that it initiated the investigation following a petition filed by Ferrotech Steel Corp., claiming that the surge in imported LPG steel cylinders has caused serious injury to domestic industry.

Ferrotech has proposed 10 years of safeguard measures for steel cylinder imports.

“The DTI, acting under Section 6 of Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act, has made an evaluation of the application and found the existence of a prima facie case that will justify the initiation of a preliminary safeguard measures investigation on imports of LPG steel cylinders falling under ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature Code 73.11 from various countries,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in the notice.

According to the DTI, the investigation will cover the 2017 to 2021 period, during which China was the source of 98.9% of imported LPG steel cylinders.

The Bureau of Customs estimates that LPG steel cylinder imports increased 24% to 15,942 metric tons (MT) in 2019 and 45% to 23,058 MT in 2020. Import volume fell 13% to 19,990 MT in 2021.

The DTI added that the Philippines imported 10,827 MT as of the end of July 2022, equivalent to 54% of 2021 levels.

The Philippines charges a 10% most-favored-nation tariff rate on LPG cylinder imports. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave