We received some good news last week when the Tariff Commission (TC) recommended junking the provisional safeguard bond imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on a variety of imported automobiles following a lengthy investigation. For the time being, however, it’s only a recommendation. Ultimately, it is the DTI that has to act on whether or not to remove or continue implementing the safeguard bond.
According to a report from The Philippine Star, however, the DTI is ready to respect the recommendation of the Tariff Commission.
“We are ready to respect the decision of the TC as the government body tasked to conduct the public hearings and issue a ruling on the matter. But we continue to study their report which we just got now,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a Viber message to Philippine Star.
With that, the issue of the safeguard bonds on imported vehicles could soon be over. Per the final report made by the TC, the investigation showed that the volume of imported passenger cars (PCs) and imported light commercial vehicles (LCVs) did not increase in both absolute terms and relative terms to models assembled here.
For reference, the complaint made by the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA) to the DTI was that the sales performance of local vehicles was being harmed by vehicle imports. As a result of the complaint, the DTI imposed safeguard bonds that amounted to PHP 70,000 for every imported PC and PHP 110,000 for LCVs.
We have yet to hear an official announcement from the DTI on whether the safeguard bond will stay or not. But if the report from Philippine Star is to be believed, it could be a sign of things to come.
Assuming the safeguard bond is removed, the question now is how will automakers return the money to customers. But the bigger question is this: will the PMA challenge the TC’s recommendation of dropping the safeguard bond? For now, we’ll have to wait to find out.