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Tariff Commission To Impose Safeguard Measures On Light Trucks

MANILA, Philippines — The Tariff Commission (TC) has started its probe to determine the merits of imposing safeguard measures on passenger car (PC) and light commercial vehicle (LCV) imports.

In a notice, the TC said it commenced the formal investigation on Feb.5 after receiving a request from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

As part of its investigation, the TC will conduct a preliminary conference on Feb.17.

“Matters for discussion include the timelines, nature of investigation, appearance of counsel and parties, number of witnesses, notification, accessibility of documents and public file, confidentiality of documents, submission of position paper/s and memoranda, adjustment plan, conduct of inspection and verification of data, schedules of public hearings and other activities, and other topics that may aid in the prompt disposition of the case,” the TC said.

The formal investigation will look at whether the provisional safeguard measures imposed on imported PCs and LCVs should be in place for a longer period. These include a cash bond amounting to P70,000 per unit of an imported PC and P110,000 for every imported LCV unit for a period of 200 days.

Provisional safeguard measures were imposed as the DTI found higher vehicle imports are causing serious injury to the domestic motor vehicle manufacturing industry based on its preliminary investigation of a petition filed by labor group Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance.

DTI’s findings show the country’s PC imports rose by an average of 35 percent from 2014 to 2018.

The share of PC imports also exceeded domestic production from 295 percent in 2014 to 349 percent in 2018.

Meanwhile, LCV imports surged to 51,969 units in 2018 from 17,273 units.

The share of LCV imports relative to domestic production also went up to 1,364 percent in 2018 from 645 percent in 2015.

The country is allowed under Republic Act 8800 or the Safeguard Measures Act to impose a safeguard measure or higher tariff on imports to give relief to the domestic industry when there is serious threat or injury from increased imports of like products.

At present, vehicles assembled in the country are the Toyota Vios and Innova, Mitsubishi Mirage and L300, Hyundai Accent, Isuzu N-Series light trucks, Hino trucks and Foton Tornado light trucks.

Nissan Philippines Inc. which assembles the Almera in Laguna, will cease local production next month in line with a global plan to optimize operations in Southeast Asia.