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Auto parts workers call for manufacturing incentives

A CAR parts labor group is urging the government to introduce new incentives for automotive companies manufacturing locally to complement import safeguards designed to protect the local industry.

The Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA), along with its associate Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, said that the import duties set this month “should only be the start.”

PMA had successfully petitioned the Trade department to slap duties on imported cars after it flagged a link between a recent surge in imports and a decline in local employment.

The labor group in a statement on Tuesday said that the government incentives program offering fiscal support to car companies that locally produce 200,000 units of high-volume car models for six years should be “earnestly implemented.”

Car firms Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. are participating in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS), but Toyota has been asking for a compliance extension after it said the pandemic impeded its ability to meet the required production volume.

PMA added that there should be new incentives for car companies that have been manufacturing in the Philippines for a long period.

The labor groups have been pushing back against the car industry group’s criticism of the import duties. The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), after a pandemic-driven 41.6% sales drop as of November, said that duties would impede the sector’s recovery and risk employment downsizing.

But the workers groups said that the safeguard protects Philippine workers amid a drive to boost local manufacturing instead of import dependence.

The CARS program, they said, was designed to improve local industry performance.

“(The program is) along the lines of the extremely generous tax incentives being provided by many countries all over the world, including those that would supposedly be affected by the safeguard measures.” — Jenina P. Ibañez

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