Hyundai may soon join gov’t auto program

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hyundai-3Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. is reviewing the possibility of joining the government’s automobile resurgence program, said Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Lopez said Tuesday he met with officials of HARI last Feb. 13 to discuss the firm’s possible entry into the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program.

However, HARI is yet to express its official commitment under the CARS program as the long sought for third player.

“They are not yet committing to it. Of course, it has to be aligned with their global priorities and strategies. But definitely, the program we have has gained traction,” he said in Filipino on the sidelines of a business forum Tuesday.

The CARS program is a P27-billion government initiative that aims to entice three car makers to locally produce three car models.

Established under the Aquino administration, the program requires its participants to produce at least 200,000 units in six years, or an average of 33,333 units annually.

Carmakers have expressed their reservations over the heavy volume requirement of the program.

So far, only Toyota Motors Philippines Corp. (TMP) and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines corp. (MMPC) are officially registered for CARS.

Lopez said that there was “no deadline” for the search of the third player.

A representative of HARI could not be reached for comment as of press time.

According to the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, the local distributor of Hyundai vehicles sold 33,695 units last year, up by 52.75 percent from 22,058 in 2015.

Meanwhile, Lopez said he had also met with his South Korean counterpart,  Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan,  on Monday.

He said they had agreed to push for the conclusion of the  Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as well as for the advancement of the Asean-Korea Free Trade agreement.

“We want to advance the discussion of the Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement. And also on that basis, our bilateral request is for lower tariff rates on banana and pinnacle and key agriculture products,” he said.

The trade chief said the government wanted to lower the Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates of bananas and pineapple to zero from the current base of 30 percent. –Roy Stephen C. Canivel 



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