A COMPANY is eyeing taking over the Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) plant in Laguna after it halts operations this month.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Friday that the company, which he did not identify, is an existing player in the Philippines, and does “not necessarily” produce cars.

Kung may umalis, may mga nag-e-expand, (If one company leaves, there are others that expand)” he said.

Kanya-kanyang niche (Each company has its niche). Alam nila (They know) it’s a big market for some products, and a big market for cars, but maybe not all brands of cars.”

HCPI announced on Feb. 22 that it is shutting down its Sta. Rosa, Laguna facility that produces Honda City and BR-V models.

The closure was attributed to a global slowdown in the automotive industry, with multinational companies rationalizing operations amid trade tensions and epidemics.

The Trade department said it was studying possible safeguard duties on automotive imports to support local assemblers.

The Philippine Metalworkers Association (PMA) last year filed a petition to the trade department to investigate safeguard restrictions to protect local employment.

The Honda closure led to job losses for more than 380 workers.

Reports said that HCPI workers ended their protest at the facility on Friday after the union Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda and HCPI management came to an agreement on the workers’ severance terms.

Honda had a 5.5% market share in the Philippines last year, with sales falling 12.7% to 20,338 vehicles. — Jenina P. Ibañez