Levy feared to derail car sales growth

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    Vehicle sales rose 12.2 percent in February from the previous month but industry players express concern the imposition of the provisional safeguard measures starting this month could derail recovery.

    A joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Associationreleased yesterday showed February sales reached 26,230 units compared with 23,380 units in January.

    This is still 12 percent lower than the 29,790 units sold in February 2020 and brought sales for the first two months of 2021 to 49,610 units, down 7.3 percent from 53,513 units in the same period in 2020.

    Rommel Gutierrez, president of CAMPI, in a statement said the industry achieved a double-digit recovery due to increases posted across all categories.

    Gutierrez said the Asian utility vehicle category grew by nearly 30 percent to 4,045 units while the light trucks category posted 23.4 percent growth to 411 units.

    Both categories of heavy-duty trucks and buses have recorded double-digit growth of 19 percent and 39 percent, respectively, with sales of 289 and 103, respectively.

    Sales in February were driven by commercial vehicles (CV) at 18,331 units of which 13,483 units are light commercial vehicles (LCVs). The CV segment accounted for 70 percent of total sales while the remaining 30 percent are passenger cars, 7,899 units.

    LCVs and passenger cars imported as completely-built up are slapped additional duties of P110,000 and P70,000, respectively, per unit effective March 1.

    Automotive companies have started collecting the duties, plus value-added tax, as a cash deposit of buyers.

    “CAMPI expresses concern on the imposition of safeguard measures. While the industry sees early signs of recovery, the provisional import duties, more so if it becomes definitive, will derail any recovery efforts of the automotive industry,” Gutierrez said.

    Gutierrez said rather than restricting imports, a better incentive scheme must be crafted to attract investments for local production of motor vehicles.