• CARS program applicants given March deadline

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    Firms seeking incentives under the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program will be given up to March to submit their applications, Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said.

    Cristobal told reporters on Wednesday that the Trade department would be releasing a memorandum circular detailing the timeline and process for applications for the CARS program.

    “The circular will be published on Friday . . . [the]period of application will be from January 15 to March,” Cristobal said.

    The CARS program, under Executive Order 182 signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in June 2015, seeks to incentivize the mass production of three vehicle models over a six-year timeframe.

    An Automotive Development Fund will be included in the national budget beginning this year, with the government allocating a total of P27 billion and each model getting P9 billion. At least 200,000 units per model should be produced.

    Two automakers have so far expressed their intent to apply: Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with their Vios and Mirage models, respectively.

    Other than three model vehicles, the CARS program also aims to provide incentives to auto parts makers.

    Ferdinand Raquel Santos, president of Philippine Parts Maker Association, said his group was targeting joint ventures between local and foreign firms, projected to materialize “in the next two years.”

    He claimed the joint ventures would “more than double” the volume of locally assembled vehicles.

    “Our association is targeting at least 31 joint ventures or technical agreements with this CARS program. Most suppliers are coming from Japan, the models are Japanese and the existing suppliers are Japanese,” he said,

    “It’s been encouraged that they establish their manufacturing facilities in the Philippines . . . we encourage that they go partner with local parts makers, especially the small and medium ones,” Raquelsantos added.

    “We finally got the first fruit of the program. We have a new foreign parts maker who is establishing their presence in the Philippines and doing joint venture with the local parts makers. They’re in the business of press parts, big metal body parts,” he said, declining to provide more details.

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