By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte assured business leaders on Wednesday of a level playing field and equal treatment from the government as long as they follow the laws of the land.
The President gave the assurance in his speech during the 30th anniversary celebration of Toyota Motor Philippines in Taguig City Wednesday night.
In one of his shortest speeches ever, President Duterte assured entrepreneurs that the government will protect them.
“This government will protect you and your investments and will ensure a level playing field where you will thrive as long as you follow the rules of the land,” Duterte said.
Prior to his speech, Duterte received Toyota Motor Philippines’ (TMP’s) donation of 30 Filipino-made vehicles to the Office of the President. These include 10 Toyota Innovas and 20 Toyota Vios.
The Chief Executive congratulated Toyota Motor Philippines for reaching the milestone and lauded the corporation for not only moving goods and people, but also in charting the course of the country’s future.
Duterte also noted how the Japanese automotive manufacturer has been a partner of the government.
“It is also a major driver of our economy, encouraging investments that spur national development. It is also a key generator of employment, nurturing the skills and talents of over 53,000 employees,” he said.
“The corporation has also been our government’s steadfast partner in many initiatives such as the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy Program or CARS, which aims to attract more investments and implement regulations that will transform the Philippines into an automotive manufacturing hub,” he added.
Duterte also said he is delighted that TMP’s initiatives help uplift the lives of underprivileged Filipinos in line with his campaign against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption.
“Through your corporate social responsibility initiatives such as scholarship opportunities, reforestation projects, annual dental and medical outreach programs, you have pursued a meaningful business that works towards the upliftment of local communities and the global environment. I ask you to continue doing so as we realize a more sustainable society,” he said.
“As you prepare yourselves for another exciting 30 years ahead, I trust that you’ll be one with me as we bring real and lasting change for the sake of our people,” he added.
‘We’re here for the long haul’
In the same occasion, Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) President Akio Toyoda said that after contributing immensely to the Philippine economy in the past 30 years and enjoying a runaway market leadership, the company vowed never to leave the country again as it looks forward to continue investing and producing cars in the country together with its long-time partner – GT Capital Holdings, Inc. of the Ty Group.
“Once we left, but we are here now, never again to stop our business. That is our promise to the Filipino people,” said Toyoda, referring to their pull-out in 1961 from the Philippines only to come back in 1988 and formed the partnership with Dr. George S.K. Ty. Since then, Toyota has recognized 1988 as their founding year in the Philippines.
For the past 30 years, the Toyota Group has invested P58 billion in the Philippines and provided employment to over 53,000 Filipinos. It contributed P293 billion to government in the form of taxes and sourced P182 billion from the local suppliers.
Since 1997, Toyota Group’s export sales reached $13.6 billion. As of 2017, its export sales accounting for 25 percent of the country’s total auto parts exports.
Year to date, TMP said it has produced a total of 242,965 units of vehicles (Vios and Innova) bringing its cumulative total CKD production since 1989 to 791,665 units. Its manufacturing plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, has an annual production capacity of 55,108 units.
As part of its commitment for the future, TMP is expanding its dealership network to a total of 70 by end of the year from the current 67.
As participant of the government’s CARS, TMP is expected to produce 3,500 units a month of the Vios model, which has now doubled its local content to almost 50 percent.
Toyoda also expressed his gratitude to Filipinos for warmly accepting Toyota into their homes. Toyota is the country’s number one vehicle with market share of more than 30 percent.
“I look forward to working more closely with all of you to help build a truly strong, and smiling Philippine nation,” said Toyoda, who before concluding his speech asked permission to take a selfie with the audience stating that one very important fact he found out about the Philippines is it’s being the world’s “selfie” capital.
Decreased output seen
But TMP President Satoru Suzuki said he expects a 17-percent decrease in its output this year as higher excise taxes and consumer goods prices weigh on demand.
According to a Reuters’ report, Toyota Philippines will produce around 50,000 units this year, down nearly 17 percent from the record high 60,000 units in 2017, Suzuki said.
Sales of motor vehicles among all automotive companies in the Philippines fell 12.5 percent to 171,590 units in the first half from a year ago, data from the ASEAN Automotive Federation showed. It is the second largest sales decline in the region, next only to Singapore’s 13.3-percent drop.
Meanwhile, TMP Vice-Chairman Alfred V. Ty stressed that Toyota’s vision of a brighter tomorrow has always been anchored towards the commitment of a long-term development to its host country through tax remittances, investment opportunities, export generation and most importantly, employment opportunities.
Ty cited the three pillars of Toyota’s global campaign: synergistic approach in long-term leasing and a modified rid-sharing business; commitment to zero emission with the use of environment-friendly vehicles with the launched of hybrid and electric vehicles and the next big thing in Fuel cell vehicles; and autonomous driving technology.
“Today, I challenge myself to steer TMP from only being a car manufacturer and distributor of vehicles, into a total mobility provider company, combining efforts with our sister institutions and developing new strategic partnerships working towards this goal,” he said. (With a report from Bernie C. Magkilat)