CAMPI urges DTI to reconsider import safeguard plan

Published September 15, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The domestic automotive industry has urged the Department of Trade and Industry to reconsider its safeguard investigation on imported cars as sales took a dive in August.

A joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) shows total vehicle sales recorded a 12.8 percent decrease to 17,906 units in August from 20,542 units sold a month ago.

On a year-on-year comparison, the industry sales fell by 39.5% from 29,599 units sold in August last year.

Year-to-date, the industry has sold 123,489 units, a 47.6% decline compared with the same period a year ago.

CAMPI President Rommel Gutierrez attributed this to the low business and consumer confidence amid the general economic slowdown  “Spending remains a challenge especially for big-ticket items such as cars, ” said Gutierrez. “This has resulted in another auto sales decline of nearly 13 percent.”

 As sales remained a challenge, CAMPI urged the DTI to consider the impact of the pandemic on the local industry’s recovery in pursuing its case against imported vehicles on plans of slapping safeguard duty to stop the surge of imports into the country.

 The DTI notification before the World Trade Organization (WTO) for safeguard probe against imported vehicles stemmed from the petition filed by the Philippine Metalworkers Association before the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“Economic recovery can be a gauge of the industry’s future performance, but it also depends on the policy environment. Any restrictive policies such as safeguard duty will only limit the industry’s capability to navigate the current crisis,” said Gutierrez.        

Meanwhile, the industry is turning to aggressive promotions to boost sales and achieve its revised sales forecast of 240,000 units in 2020. “Our objective is to achieve if not outperform this new target. Otherwise, recovery will be even more difficult“.

 In 2019, CAMPI-TMA sold over 369,000 units of vehicles.