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Gov't tightens rules on used car imports
Felipe F. Salvosa II, BusinessWorld (3 Aug 2004)

MANILA, PHILIPPINES: The government is set to implement tighter rules against imported used vehicles by requiring a smoke emission test certificate from the country of origin prior to registration with the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar A.V. Purisima told reporters yesterday the move is designed to ensure that used cars have complied with proper emission standards before being exported to the Philippines.

Mr. Purisima said the scheme will be carried out by the LTO, although details are still being worked out.

The Cabinet official added that other ways to curb used car importation, said to be killing the local automotive industry, are being explored.

Mr. Purisima, however, noted that the government is substantially restricted by an injunction issued by an Olongapo (Central Luzon) court in connection with the importation of second-hand, right hand-drive motor vehicles. The government's campaign versus imported used cars suffered a major setback last year when Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Judge Elpidio Ubiadas stopped the implementation of the Motor Vehicle Development Program which prohibits used vehicle importation. The former US naval base, Subic Bay Freeport and Special Economic Zone, has been a major entry door to used car imports.


For his part, Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr., undersecretary for Consumer Welfare and Trade Regulation, said one of the measures being implemented is the revival of an interagency task force on used vehicles.

The task force will be composed of the Trade and Industry, Finance, and Transportation and Communication departments, the Bureau of Customs, and the LTO.

Mr. Cristobal said the group will come up with an "action plan" on how to modernize the country's transport system.

He added that health was the primary consideration for the tightened rules versus imported used cars.

"We are exploring ways to implement a number of concrete policies on used car importation, but without circumventing the legal order," Mr. Cristobal said, referring to the Olongapo court injunction.

Imported used cars have been coming in unabated, mostly through the Subic Bay Freeport, automotive industry players earlier said.

Around 200,000 new vehicles were registered last year, while automotive industry sales totaled only a little over 92,000 units, Isuzu Philippines Corporation said in a recent statement.


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