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DTI to craft program to boost e-vehicle investments

Anna Mogato | Rappler

The Department of Trade and Industry gears up to strengthen the Philippines' e-vehicle industry as it seeks to seal a free trade agreement with South Korea, a manufacturing powerhouse

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking into developing a special program to attract more e-vehicle investments.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez raised this during the grand opening of the Korea-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Support Center on Wednesday, June 26. (READ: 'One million electric vehicles in PH by 2020')

Lopez said the program should "quickly attract foreign and local investors in this industry of the future, if it is to compete with other countries with respect to becoming a preferred location for e-vehicle production."

The DTI recently met with the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) and e-vehicle firms in South Korea. The Philippines is also seeking an FTA with South Korea.

"We see so much potential and opportunities in our e-vehicle industry that can be further strengthened with our deepening bilateral relationship with a manufacturing powerhouse like South Korea," Lopez said.
Aside from tax holidays, EVAP said there is a need for performance-based and time-bound incentives. The group also suggested other perks such as free parking or discounted tollway rates for e-vehicles to encourage demand for these cars.

The interest for e-vehicles or even hybrid types in the Philippines has been weak. Toyota Motors Philippines, for example, only managed to sell 7 units of its Prius in 2018.

An opportunity for another industry?
Philippine Nickel Industry Association president and co-founder Dante Bravo told Rappler that it is too early for them to tell if the local nickel industry can take advantage of the DTI's effort to set up an e-vehicle industry in the Philippines.

Bravo said that if the DTI's plans would include setting up battery plants which use nickel instead of lithium, it could open up an opportunity for miners to supply locally and not just export ore to China.
The country, being the second largest source of nickel in the world, is banking on the healthy demand from China, which needs the mineral to produce stainless steel and e-vehicles.

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