THE Department of Trade and Industry said it is working on a “special program” that will attract investors to various segments of the electronic vehicle (EV) industry all across the value chain.

“We are studying what other support we can provide to the e-vehicle industry. A special program that will quickly attract foreign and local investors in this industry of the future… to compete with other countries with respect to becoming a preferred location for e-vehicle production,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a statement Wednesday.

Mr. Lopez made the disclosure at a ceremony to open a center to facilitate trade with South Korea, in the presence of officials from South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE), the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and South Korean companies.

The Korea-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement Support Center opened this week.

The DTI met earlier this month with International Electric Vehicle Association and other EV firms from South Korea.

The association encouraged the Philippines to provide additional support to attract more investors in the EV and parts industry, and proposed that that aside from the usual tax holidays, the government provide a performance-based, time-bound incentive regime.

It also lobbied for incentives for EV owners, like free parking and discounted tolls, in line with the practices in South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Undersecretary for DTI’s Competitiveness and Innovation Group Rafaelita M. Aldaba earlier said the DTI, in coordination with other regulators, hopes to release this year an incentive package that will encourage EV firms to put up assembly plants.

The program will be modeled on the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy which rewards domestic production and the manufacturing of high-volume car models.

The Philippines is hoping to host South Korean EV firms amid ongoing negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.

“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,” Mr. Lopez added.

The Philippines and South Korea launched this month the first round of negotiations for an FTA, which they hope to wrap up by September this year, in time for signing by November.

The Philippines and South Korea have conducted their first round of FTA negotiations in early June. — Janina C. Lim