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Toyota eyes P4.5-B logistics hub in PH

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. will build a P4.5-billion logistics hub next year, making space for more cars at a time when its sales are at risk of falling because of proposals to slap tariffs on imported vehicles.

TMP President Satoru Suzuki told reporters on Monday that the logistics hub was being developed in anticipation of greater demand, noting that its courtyard in Laguna—which could store up to 5,000 vehicles at a time—would eventually exceed its capacity.
A logistics hub will increase Toyota’s capacity to import more cars, and therefore help address Filipinos’ aspiration of owning a car despite the heavy traffic that has plagued the country’s major thoroughfares.

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The announcement comes at a time when the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying proposals that will, in theory, encourage more car companies to locally produce their models by further taxing imported vehicles.

In one of his last press interviews yesterday before stepping down from office this month, Suzuki called the DTI proposal “anti-free trade,” which will essentially make Toyota’s P4.5-billion investment pointless.

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“It means we [will] invest [in] some property which we don’t need,” he said.

But when asked if Toyota will still put up the logistics hub, he said: “Of course, because we believe the government will not do it.”
More than a million units have been imported by the Philippines from 2014 to 2018, according to DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo in an earlier interview. In 2014, only 153,000 motor vehicles were brought in.

Around 70 percent of the vehicles imported from 2014 to 2018 came from Thailand and Indonesia, the DTI said, with Thailand shipping around 428,000 units and Indonesia sending about 312,000 units.

Toyota, among other companies, has production hubs in both countries.

This laid down the basis for the government to at least consider two separate moves.

On one hand, the DTI is studying a petition for a safeguard measure against imported vehicles, after labor group Philippine Metalworkers Alliance claimed that local jobs had been harmed because of too many imports in the past few years.

On another, the DTI is thinking of using imported vehicles as a tool to retaliate against Thailand, after the latter refused to concede to rulings decided by the World Trade Organization on Thailand’s alleged unfair treatment of imported Philip Morris cigarettes from the Philippines. INQ

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