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Importers back Bracks
Industry review report gets the thumbs-up from local car importers
19 Aug 2008
WHILE the local manufacturers focused on the Bracks Report’s recommendation to continue reducing tariffs, the importers see it as a well-balanced review that addresses the needs of the industry as a whole.
The head of the FCAI Importers Group, Lindsay Smalley, told GoAuto yesterday that he saw no negatives in the report, which he says provides a great foundation for the future.
“I think it was a well-balanced and well-considered report,” said Mr Smalley, who is also the director of Honda Australia.
“The importers as a group understand the need for support for the local industry while they move through a transition period (but) don’t see tariffs as the major issue in that report.
“While the tariffs scenario is distorted, their relevance will actually disappear in the period of that report anyway, particularly with the current and emerging Free Trade Agreements coming through.
“The manufacturers were certainly wanting to link tariff reduction to the Doha Round [of free trade talks], but the importers’ view through the FCAI was that, provided we had certainty on tariff reduction, and that was linked to some type of return on investment given the amount of subsidy going into the automotive industry, and the local manufacturers are lifting, we weren’t fixated on the 10 per cent to five per cent issue – but we welcome the proposed cut.” Mr Smalley said the review would encourage the local car-makers to embrace new and more environmentally sound technology, pointing to the fact that the engine plants to be closed in Victoria were still producing very outdated iron-block four-cylinder (Holden) and six-cylinder (Ford) engines.
“To me, the positive [from the report] is to give local manufacturers some assurance of their ongoing investment and participation and give them further time to change their technology and production base from last century to this century,” he told us.
“With significant taxpayer subsidy, these multinationals are being given the opportunity to invest into this century and I’m sure they’ll do it, and they’ll do it successfully. I’m sure that those three players will be strongly with us into the future.” Even though the importers cannot benefit from the Green Car Innovation Fund, Mr Smalley said he welcomed the proposed doubling of the government’s investment to $1 billion, saying the current $500 million is “nowhere near what’s required to energise a green car industry in Australia”.
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