DTI moves to curb sale of inferior steel goods

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is issuing a department administrative order (DAO) that tightens the rules on sampling of imported steel products, in a bid to improve safety standards of construction materials at the onset of the government’s “golden age of infrastructure” campaign.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, in a media briefing on Thursday, said the agency is attempting to strengthen the consumer-protection regulations on imported steel, following a yearlong dispute between the DTI, a private steel rebar importer  and local steel makers.

“We are issuing a new DAO changing the sampling size for imported steel products for testing. We’ll be issuing an order to change it because we’re only getting three samples no matter the size of the shipment,” Lopez said.

Local steel makers have long groused at this perceived lax sampling regulation of the DTI on deformed, re-rolled and equal-angle steel bars, as compared with the stringent quality testing that locally produced steel products undergo.

Local steel makers are required to submit one bar of a steel product for every 20 tons made, while only three are required from importers no matter the volume of shipment. They’ve pushed for importers to be subject to the same rules under the Philippine National Standards 49:2002.

Trade Undersecretary for Industry Policy Ceferino S. Rodolfo, speaking on the issue before, said the sampling size should correspond to the shipment size, per internationally accepted standards.

The DTI- Bureau of Product Standards has yet to come up with a formula for the sampling size, but Lopez hinted its proportion would be like 1,000 pieces or bars for every 5,000 metric tons.

“We need a more representative size of the shipment. There’s a proportionate amount so that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to avoid substandard products. The DAO should hopefully be released within two weeks,” Lopez said.