Lopez justifies safeguard duties on imported cars, light commercial vehicles

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Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez rebutted on Wednesday the claims of car industry groups that the safeguard duties imposed on imported vehicles will result in job losses in the country.

“Safeguard duty is definitely meant to help and boost local manufacturing revival efforts and meant to protect local jobs in the manufacturing of cars and light commercial vehicles,” Lopez said in a Viber message to trade reporters.

Both the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) expressed their concern over the provisional safeguard duties on imported passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez earlier said sales volume of vehicles are expected to be lower due to the safeguard measure on imported vehicles, which will pose “risk of employment downsizing.”

“The CAMPI’s concern on sales shows that they are selling more imported cars. Again, the imported vehicles are not banned,” Lopez said.

On Monday, Lopez announced that a provisional safeguard duty of P70,000 per unit for imported passenger cars and P110,000 per unit for imported light commercial vehicles (LCVs) will be imposed for 200 days. LCVs include pick ups and sport utility vehicles or SUVs.

The decision for the Department of Trade and Industry to slap safeguard duty on imported passenger cars and light commercial vehicles resulted from its preliminary determination, which found out that imported cars have caused serious injury to the domestic car industry, particularly manufacturers of vehicles and parts.

Lopez said the safeguard measure does not ban imported vehicles and does not stop the businesses of car dealers.

“Consumers have the option, and the dealers can now sell more of the locally made vehicles such as Toyota Vios and Innova and Mitsubishi Mirage and L300. The prices of which are not changing and therefore will be more attractive,” he added.

Lopez said jobs in local vehicle manufacturing, including makers of auto parts, metal works, plastic, and wiring harness, went down to 86,000 from close to 100,000 jobs.

“These jobs have been affected adversely by the increasing vehicle imports,” he said.

The alliance of labor groups Sentro said more than 1,000 automotive workers have been laid off by car manufacturers and their supply chains in 2019 alone.

“This provisional measure will protect the local industry which has been reeling from the surge in imported vehicles in the past couple of years, which has caused the loss of jobs for thousands of Filipino workers and threatens the employment of many more workers,” Sentro said in a statement. CURRENTPH

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