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Philippines seeks tariff exemption on natural gypsum imported from Oman

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The Philippines lone gypsum board manufacturer, Knauf Gypsum Philippines, filed a petition to the Philippines’ Tariff Commission seeking exemption from the three per cent tariff on the importation of its raw material — natural gypsum — from the Sultanate of Oman.

The Tariff Commission said, during a public hearing on Tuesday, that German-owned Knauf, sought the reduction of the most favoured nation (MFN) tariff rate on natural gypsum to zero per cent from 3 per cent. The Tariff Commission said it will conduct an investigation into the tariffs imposed on gypsum and anhydrite in line with the country’s Republic Act No. 10863 or the Customs Modernisation and Tariff Act.  

Knauf said the lowering of the tariff will ensure quality at reasonable prices and sustainable operations amid bullish demand for this alternative housing plaster board. Natural gypsum accounts for 90 per cent in the production of gypsum boards, which is an alternative to the traditional plywood and hollow blocks.

Based on the Knauf's initial estimate, a duty exemption or zero duty on their imports from Oman would translate to P2.00 and P2.50 per sheet price reduction of Knauf plaster boards. Knauf also cited the need to provide the best quality at lower prices and higher productivity amid the current housing backlog in the country at 6 million units.

The Sultanate of Oman is among the world’s largest exporter of gypsum. In 2021, Oman holds 10.3 per cent market share of the total world export amounting to $153 million. Thailand holds 14% of the world’s totals exports of gypsum amounting to $181 million. Germany comes next with 11.8% of the total world exports amounting to $153 million. Completing the top 5 include Spain with 9.68 % amounting to $125 million and Turkey with 9.51% to $123 million.

In 2021, Oman exported 8.74 million metric tonnes gypsum — a key raw material for the cement and gypsum board manufacturing industries. Of these, Oman exported to India, its main market, around 3.10 million metric tonnes, comprising 3.6 % of the total world exports of gypsum, amounting to $46 million. The other markets include Bangladesh (1.40 million MT), Vietnam (1.34 million MT), Japan (0.70 million MT), Indonesia (0.64 million MT), South/East Africa (0.60 million MT), and the remaining 0.96 million going to GCC, Philippines, South Korea and Sri Lanka.

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