The Filipino Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), under the Bureau of Import Services (BIS), is likely to impose measures impacting the import of automobiles into the country by the end of this month.  

 

The petition, filed with the DTI last year by the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance group, requested safeguards against the import of cars into the Philippines to protect domestic manufacturers. 

 

Presently, there is no duty on the imports of automobiles into the country.  

 

The country’s import of motor cars rose to 207,000 units in 2018 from 153,000 units in 2014.

 

The industry remains optimistic that the annual sales figure for domestically manufactured vehicles in 2019, not yet tabulated, will hit 410,000 units.

 

Philippines imported 1.15mn mt of finished flat steel in Jan-Oct 2019, down from 1.20mn mt the prior year, according to the GTT data. Steel imports are a key indicator of vehicle manufacturing. In the same period, imports of semi-finished steel dropped 34.53pc to 2.21mn mt from 3.39mn mt the prior year.  

 

After the BIS completes its evaluation, the next step will be a preliminary determination on the petition. The DTI is also studying the possibility of slapping tariffs on automobile imports from Thailand.  

 

The consolidated sales of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi), the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (Avid) had that volume at 38,006 units in November 2019. 

 

Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation leads the market with total auto sales at 39.03pc. This is followed by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (15.59pc), Nissan Philippines (10.71pc), Hyundai Asia Resources (8.2pc) and Suzuki Philippines (5.91pc).

Domestic car manufactures and local suppliers remain wary of the rising imports of automobiles impacting the domestic manufacture of cars, car assembly operations and employment, thereof. 

 

If the DTI does decide to act, the measures will come under the Republic Act 8800, or the Safeguard Measures Act, that allows the government to safeguard products in the country.

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