The Philippine Metalworkers Alliance, a member of labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, said Tuesday the additional tariffs on imported cars and vehicles will help automotive workers remain employed during the pandemic.
PMA supported the government’s decision to protect local manufacturers and workers, starting with the auto parts and auto assembly sectors.
“We note that throughout history, nations which eventually became industrialized had protected their manufacture, service-provider and agricultural sectors,” the group said.
It said the safeguard measure imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry “pales in comparison to the various protection measures that rich countries had provided before and continue to provide to their agriculture and industries.”
The DTI earlier imposed provisional safeguard duties of P70,000 for a passenger car and P110,000 for a light commercial vehicle, on top of regular tariffs.
“We are thus surprised by the statement of the Chamber of Automobile Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. claiming that the provisional safeguard measures against imported vehicles ‘is yet another blow to the automotive industry,’” PMA said.
The group said the safeguard measure was issued to protect the Philippine industry which CAMPI and its workers represent, which made it difficult to understand the position of CAMPI on the safeguard issue.
The workers’ group said it was also surprised by CAMPI’s contention that there was risk in the short- and medium-term disruption in regional production and supply and that it would further slow down regional economic growth because of a chain reaction to other industrial sectors.
As mentioned by the DTI, the safeguard measure was designed to stop the disruption in local production and supply created by the surge in imported cars, a situation exacerbated by the economic downturn amid the pandemic that impacted sales of the local automotive industry.
PMA said importation of vehicles hurt local employment and that unless security measure was imposed, local production would continue to be outrun by imports.
PMA said the DTI was simply enforcing Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act which is consistent with the country’s commitment to the World Trade Organization. Consequently, any retaliation against the Philippines would be illegal, it said.
“What is needed now is a clear way forward for the local automobile industry. Specifically, the PMA would like to see the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy program earnestly implemented, including the third tranche. Likewise, new incentives for automotive companies who have been manufacturing in the Philippines for the longest period of time should also be developed,” the group said.