Hyundai Eyes RP For Autoparts

MANILA, Philippines - Korea's Hyundai Motors is exploring the possibility of increasing its importation of auto parts and components from the Philippines, said Trade and Industry Undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio.

Panlilio has met with Hyundai officials during an investment promotion conference in Seoul organized by ASEA-Korean Center in Seoul where 150 Korean chaebols attended.

"We are looking at how we can increase our exports of car components for Hyundai," Panlilio said. At present, most of the country's auto parts exports for use by Hyundai are auto electrical components, particularly wiring harness.

The country has to work on improving its wiring harness exports for Hyundai to position itself as an investment destination for the aggressive Asian carmaker should it pursue an assembly facility in the ASEAN region.

So far, its local unit Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) is performing well and competing with existing car giants in the local market, which is dominated by Japanese car brands.

The Korean car giant has plans for a regional integration project that would allow the assembly of some of its car models in ASEAN countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Richard Lee and Fe Perez-Agudo, chairman emeritus of HARI and HARI president and CEO, respectively, earlier confirmed the ongoing discussion for the said project.

Agudo said the plan is being firmed up by the Hyundai headquarters for the regional integration project.

"We look forward to the realization of this project," Agudo said.

Agudo said the plan is to set up assembly operations in each of the five ASEAN countries - Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

"Hopefully, we will be able to identify which country will get to manufacture what Hyundai car model," Agudo said.

Having local operations in ASEAN is expected to cement Hyundai's presence in the region where Korea has an existing free trade agreement. Under the FTA scheme, trading between ASEAN and Korean products would be zero duty. Japanese car companies have already set up its manufacturing facilities in the region with Thailand as its regional manufacturing hub and its models. As such, Japanese car assemblers in the region have been enjoying zero duty for its exports to an ASEAN member country.

As the country's exclusive distributor of Hyundai vehicles, HARI is now the country's largest auto company engaged purely in the distribution of imported completely built-up vehicles. In terms of sales, HARI ranks third biggest in the total automotive industry.

Since Hyundai does not have any manufacturing operations in any of the ASEAN countries, HARI imports all its CBU supplies from Korea except for i10 brand, its compact car, which is imported from India.

It has a total of 13 brands being marketed in the country.

These are Tucson (compact sports utility vehicles), Grand Starex and Grand Starex limousine, H100, Sta. Fe (mid-size SUV), Veracruz (large size SUV), i10, i30, Accent, Elantra, Genesis Sedan, Sedan Coupe (sports car), and Sonata (mid-size Sedan).

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