Local Auto Industry Will Need To Evolve In The Face Of Competition

BMI View : With the Pakistan Cabinet Division rejecting proposals to lower the age limit of imported cars, which are making strong inroads into the local market, domestic assemblers will need to improve efficiency in order to remain in business. With the upcoming elections, we see the government balancing a fine tightrope of giving consumers access to affordable cars and making sure businesses stay viable at the same time. We do not expect the government to further increase the age limit on imported vehicles as it would prefer to expose the local auto industry to competition more gradually.

While the recent Customs General Order (CGO) increased the import duty on all imported cars ranging from PKR50,000 to PKR750,000 (depending on the engine capacity of the car), the Cabinet Division of Pakistan recently rejected a proposal to reduce the age limit set for imported used cars from five years to three years. This would have benefitted local assemblers as the recent surge in local car imports has been hurting their sales. At the same time, the Pakistan government intends to stick to its deadline for the removal of a trade barrier negative list with India by December 2012, which would expose the domestic auto component sector to greater competition.

We believe the Pakistan government wants to slowly expose the local auto sector to greater foreign competition in order to make it more competitive. Under the Industry Specific Deletion Plan (ISDP) and Product Specific Deletion Plan, local assemblers were given incentives, such as low tariffs on imports of auto components, while they slowly increased the local content of their parts over time. However, despite a few decades of operations, locally assembled cars are still expensive as local content is still limited. This has made foreign imports of used cars attractive and has allowed them to compete strongly with expensive local cars.

Competing Ferociously
Nominal Value Of Pakistan Motor Vehicle Imports (USD Millions)

To be sure, local assemblers still enjoy some protection in the form of high tariffs on imported cars. However, should they fail to keep their costs down and produce more economical cars going forward, we believe used car imports will continue to grab market share. The nominal import value of vehicles has been climbing steadily and reached a high of US$205mn in June this year.

We also believe the upcoming liberalisation of trade with India will have the effect of consolidating the local auto component industry. As local auto component manufacturers compete with competitive Indian imports, they will be forced to rationalise their costs and eliminate spare capacity.

However, given the upcoming elections in the first half of 2013, we expect the government to balance the interests of consumers with that of businesses. The government wants consumers to be able to purchase new domestically assembled cars at cheaper prices and, at the same time, it wants to ensure that businesses remain viable so that they do not close and raise unemployment in the country.

Although the All Pakistan Motors Dealer Association (APMDA) is promoting its proposal to allow used vehicles up to 10 years old for commercial import, we do not believe this proposal will be passed by the government. Such a move would deal a severe blow to the local auto industry and the government will likely expose it to foreign competition more gradually so as to give it time to adjust and remain viable.

This article is tagged to:
Sector: Autos
Geography: Pakistan, India

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