THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) expects to determine this month the need for safeguard measures against automotive imports.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the department had notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) about its intention to investigate safeguard measures on Feb. 18.

Dapat ‘yun, pumapasok na ‘yung mga data, consultation, hearing (The data, consultations, and hearings should have come in),” he said.

The DTI launched a preliminary safeguard investigation on automotive imports in February, after being petitioned by a labor group.

The Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA) last year asked the department last year to rule on whether a surge in automotive imports is causing injury to the domestic industry.

The WTO notification noted that the PMA claims “increased imports of motor vehicles are the substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry in terms of declining market share, production sales, capacity utilization, incurred losses, employment, price depression and price undercutting.”

PMA, after filing its petition in November, said workers fear job losses as companies downsize.

Mr. Lopez recently highlighted the ongoing safeguard measures probe after Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) decided it would stop operating.

Mr. Lopez has said that the decision was made by Honda headquarters, following a global automotive industry slowdown. The company will continue selling cars in the Philippines through its regional network.

The DTI has not yet decided on possible tariff rates or restrictions on import quantities. — Jenina P. Ibañez