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Hyundai to put up plant in RP soon

Manila Times, Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hyundai to put up plant in RP soon

Hyundai Motor Co. will put up a car-assembly plant in the Philippines after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and South Korea forge a free-trade agreement, according to the Korean carmaker’s sole distributor in Manila.

Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, managing director of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc., said the company’s future investments would be based on the agreement to be forged this year between the Asean, which includes the Philippines, and South Korea.

“We need to wait for the conclusion of the agreement, because any business plan of Hyundai should be in synergy with the rest of the Asean market. The company wants to build automobiles in a cost-effective [way], which could perform well in other countries to be competitive,” she said.

Perez-Agudo said Hyundai has already readied an assembly line in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which could initially produce 250 units a year and could immediately start production once the FTA is agreed.

Hyundai, she said, could manufacture all the eight models it currently markets in the Philippines, including newly launched models such as the Matrix, Starex, Tucson, Getz, Accent and the sedans Sonata and Azera.

The Hyundai distributor also plans to increase the number of its dealers in the Philippines from 20 to 25, Perez-Agudo said.

She added that Hyundai could post 100-percent sales growth before the end of this year, selling more than 4,000 units, for a 7-percent share in the domestic auto market. For 2006 the company plans to sell some 7,000 units with the introduction of new car models using innovative engine technology despite the implementation of the expanded value-added tax.

“[The expanded VAT] is not an issue for Hyundai and we will remain in the Philippines as long as our cars remain competitive,” Perez-Agudo said.

Last week authorities reported that the government would sign an agreement with South Korea, together with other Asean countries, when Asean leaders meet in Malaysia this month.

Officials said a framework, which includes a comprehensive economic cooperation between Asean and South Korea, will cover not only merchandise but also agreements on services and investments.

Under the agreement, the Asean 6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Singapore and Thailand) will enjoy accelerated access to the South Korean market, granting them duty-free access for 90 percent of tariff lines by January 1, 2009.

By 2010 South Korea will eliminate all tariffs on 90 percent of its tariff lines while the Asean 6 will reciprocate by eliminating all tariffs on 85 percent of tariff lines.

— Angelo S. Samonte

 source: Manila Times