IMPORTS of hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) should be accorded zero-tariff entry alongside full EVs, foreign business chambers said.

The zero-tariff policy proposed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) covers EVs only.

Bradley Norman, Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Philippines vice-president, said in a briefing last week that including hybrid EVs in the zero-tariff policy will help ease the transition away from vehicles driven by internal combustion.

“It will certainly be great if it (zero-tariff) can be applied to the hybrids as well because they seem to be the bridge between fossil-fueled motor vehicles to EVs,” Mr. Norman said.

On Nov. 24, the NEDA Board endorsed a draft executive order (EO) lowering the most-favored-nation tariff to zero on completely built-up EVs for five years. The EVs covered by the proposed EO include cars, buses, mini-buses, vans, trucks, motorcycles, tricycles, scooters, and bicycles.

The current tariffs for EVs range from 5% to 30%.

Korean Chamber of Commerce Philippines President Hyun Chong Um said that removing the tariffs for imported EVs would help early adopters and create momentum for a shift away from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

“For the Philippines, just removing the tariffs… will greatly benefit not only the environment, but also prepare for the next stage of the automotive industry,” he said.

“Hybrid EV or a combination (of both hybrid and full EV) will be a good start in changing from the combustion engine to electric cars,” he added.

Lars Wittig, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president, also called for the EO to cover all potential import source countries.

He said the Philippines will be the first country in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to allow zero import duties on imported EVs once the EO is signed.

“We applaud the (Philippine) government for these initiatives. But we would also like it to include hybrid cars and not only from within Asia or ASEAN, but also from Europe,” Mr. Wittig said. 

American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe said that his organization is pushing for domestic EV production. 

“We would also like to see (EVs) being produced here, not just imported. Until we have the ability to manufacture these EVs in-country, for sure we should be have zero tariffs,” Mr. Hinchliffe said. 

“We just cannot continue to pollute the skies. We saw how blue the skies were during the pandemic when all the vehicles were off the road,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave