PBBM talks with Toyota, Mitsubishi on PH car-making plans

A possible reintroduction of the popular 1990s Toyota Tamaraw and the resurgence of the car manufacturing industry in the Philippines are some of the topics that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. discussed with Japanese officials and investors during a series of meetings on Friday, Feb. 10.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (center) meets Japanese officials of Toyota Motors Corp. in Tokyo, Japan. Also in the photo are Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (left) and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual (right). (Photo from Presidential Communications Office)

The Chief Executive is currently in Japan for a five-day state visit from Feb. 8 to 12.

He welcomed the plan of automaker giant Toyota to bring back the Tamaraw model in the Philippine market, as well as shared that his administration is currently studying the proposed extension of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program.

Noting how the Tamaraw was a dependable utility transport for many years for Filipinos, Marcos said that many of the units that Toyota built are still currently on the road.

Toyota officials called the Tamaraw, the tall boxy utility vehicle that once ruled the more comfortable air-conditioned public transport in the country, the company’s “workhorse” during the meeting with the President.

READ: Marcos hopes business deals will foster enduring PH-Japan ties

“We have always been appreciative especially in the involvement of Toyota in the Philippines over so many years and I think the mutual experience between Toyota and the Philippine and the local markets has been a good one and the partnership we can look to as a success,” Marcos said.

“It is very interesting to hear your new plans for the Philippines and it’s very much in alignment with what we’re trying to do . . . we are hoping we are able to improve the situation for your supplier to be able to come in to the ease of doing business,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President told officials of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in Tokyo that although a study is still underway for the extension of the CARS program, the government is “very much of the mind that we have to encourage this investment because it is an industrial and high-end manufacturing operation”.

“It is something that would be important to the Philippines because we are trying to encourage now . . . both for local businesses and businesses from other countries and businesses from Japan . . . we are trying to encourage this capital investment to improve the share of manufacturing contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product),” he pointed out.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during a meeting with officials of Mitsubish Motors Corp. in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo from Presidential Communications Office via Facebook)

This, Marcos added, is aligned with the goal to “balance the economy”.

“Right now, services is a large majority of the contribution to GDP, which is alright, and we want to keep that going. But we want to balance the contribution from different sectors of the economy,” Marcos said.

Both Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) and Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) are presently enrolled in the country’s CARS program, which offers incentives for manufacturers willing to assemble mass-market cars domestically.

Under the program, participating carmakers have six years to reach the minimum volume target sales of 200,000 units each for the enrolled car models, so they can receive their incentives.

During its presentation, Mitsubishi said the Philippines is one of the most important markets for the company.

It also expressed support to the Philippines’ planned green energy factory that will use the company’s solar rooftop project.