a car is lined up in a parking lot


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Sales of imported vehicles dove by almost half in the first eight months of 2020, according to a car industry group, which voiced optimism that these would pick up before the year ends.

In a report on Thursday, the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors Inc. (AVID) said the number of automobiles sold reached 29,360 at end-August, down 48.7 percent from 57,202 in the same period last year.

All car segments posted decreases. Sales of passenger cars (PC) dropped by 51 percent to 9,755 units in the eight months ending August from 20,073 year-on-year; those of light commercial vehicles (LCV), 46.8 percent to 19,412 from 36,488; and those of commercial vehicles (CV), 70 percent to 193 from 641.

For August alone, automobile sales hit 4,753 units, a 7-percent decline from 5,100 in July. Year-earlier figures were not provided.

AVID attributed the month-on-month drop to the reimposition of a modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces from August 4 to 18 to try to slow the increase in the number of coronavirus disease 2019 cases in the country.

As of Thursday, this number rose to 276,289, of which 63,408 are active.Of the total, 208,096 have recovered and 4,785 succumbed to the highly contagious respiratory illness.

Despite the reduced sales, AVID is upbeat these would recover in the last four months of the year as economic activities steadily resume.

“There are encouraging indicators of a sustained recovery for auto with the gradual reopening of businesses. Still, we remain vigilant, since a key aspect of the industry’s revival is the restoration of consumer confidence through strict health and safety guidelines and rapid digital transformation. These ensure the well-being of our stakeholders, continuity of operations and preservation of livelihood,” AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said in the report.

The group supports the call of industry players for state support to help them recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December.

“We welcome government initiatives that further open opportunities for investment, create jobs for our workers, [and] provide reliable and affordable mobility for Filipinos,” Perez-Agudo said.

“However, we are particularly concerned about the proposal to impose safeguard taxes on imported vehicles. Prior to the lockdowns, we have conveyed our position that penalizing imports will not trigger investments nor address pressing issues faced by the local manufacturing sector. Rather, it is a disruptive measure [that] will further inhibit the growth of the automotive industry and reduce our competitiveness in the region,” she added.

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