I have always maintained that the mobility sector is one of the best sources of economic growth in the country.
In a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report for the fourth quarter of 2021 under the heading “Contributors to Growth by Industry”, wholesale and retail trade, motor vehicle and motorcycle repair were the second largest contributor to growth after manufacturing.
Manufacturing recorded the largest contribution to growth at 1.5%, followed by wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles at 1.4%. The fourth contributor to growth is transport and storage at 0.5%.
Of course, the automobile and motorcycle industry is part of both manufacturing and transportation, so it’s safe to assume that the industry alone is a major contributor to the economic growth of our country.
Transport is the backbone of any economy, whether private, public, industrial or commercial. Our goods and services cannot travel to its market if there is no transportation, this is a fundamental economic truth.
But what is not often emphasized are the peripheral and related industries that are necessary for the growth of a mobility industry.
Car manufacturers do not produce all auto parts, there are separate business entities for this. Different companies produce brakes, seats, tires, wheels, stereos, air conditioners, sometimes even engines and transmissions.
What a car manufacturing plant does to a community is create a whole business ecosystem that also provides jobs for people in the area where the plant is located.
An assembled car feeds more people in a community than, say, a small grocery store. A car or motorcycle factory creates more jobs, collectively, than a shopping mall.
But in recent years, our country has seen the departure of many offices of car manufacturers and, consequently, the closing of their factories here, to be transferred to a neighboring country such as Thailand or Vietnam.
The reason is economic, of course. Our neighbors offer cheaper labor without the annoying and unreasonable leftist unions and the cost of electricity is much lower. Government requirements are also simplified and local government corruption is hardly present.
We were once the motor vehicle hub of Asia. Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, they all had manufacturing and assembly plants here.
As of 2020, only Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda remain. All the others have been transferred to our neighbours.
The sad thing is that many of the engineers and managers of these overseas factories are Filipinos. It means we can make cars here.