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Friday, August 15, 2008

Builders: Scrap import tariffs on steel bars, billets

The government has been urged to consider abolishing tariffs on all steel bars and billets to ease the current shortage which has resulted in a critical increase in prices.

The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) said the steel bars and billets are now tiered at five per cent Common Effective Preferential Tariff from Asean members and 15 per cent Most Favoured Nation from other countries.

“The proposal will make it easier for the construction industry to obtain cheaper steel bars and feed its current growth and to ensure projects can be completed according to deadline,” MBAM said at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Dialogue 2008 today.

It said both China and India had started to impose a 15 per cent tax on export of steel bars to ensure that their demand was met.

Taiwan had suspended exports of rebars and steel billets for three months to increase local supplies and curb price escalations since March this year, it said.

MBAM said the suggestion would help contribute towards disciplining the local steel industry and help solve the perennial steel shortage that has affected the construction industry.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (REHDA) said the authorities should rectify the situation by fully liberalising the import of steel bars, rods and wires immediately to ensure supply at competitive prices for the domestic housing and construction industry.

REHDA and related industry players welcomed the governments decision to liberalise the cement market but did not agree with the imposition of 10 per cent import duty.

“The cement importers still have to consider other expenses such as handling and especially transportation charges, which can be a very hefty expense now with increase in fuel price,” it said.

By Bernama

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