MANILA (UPDATE) - Japan's Nissan Motor will stop its Philippine car assembly operations, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) confirmed on Thursday.
Nissan's assembly plant is in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and it will be shut down in March this year.
The closure will affect the Almera model, and 133 workers will lose jobs, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.
The move was part of Nissan's "plan to optimize production and efficient business operations" in Southeast Asia, Lopez added.
“The announcement of Nissan to close their assembly operations in the country is regrettable, as these developments all the more demonstrate the critical situation of the local motor vehicle industry," Lopez said.
An industry group earlier said vehicle sales fell more than 40 percent last year as the pandemic confined people to their homes and the economy tanked.
Lopez said Nissan's exit from Philippine car manufacturing proved that provisional safeguard measures need to be immediately put in place to protect the domestic industry from further serious injury.
“The stoppage of Almera’s assembly operations, following closely that of Honda and Isuzu, only highlights that the local auto assembly industry is critically impacted by the surge in imports and will thus benefit from the time-bound safeguard duty.”
Lopez said the Philippine auto market is one of the most open among the larger ASEAN member countries putting locally assembled vehicles at a disadvantage.
DTI meanwhile said Nissan assured it that the plant's 133 workers will be provided compensation packages and that only assembly workers are affected, as operations of their marketing and distribution network will continue selling imported units.
Lopez said he hoped that the assembly plant, which Nissan is currently leasing from Taiwanese company Yulon Group, can be used by another car manufacturer when the business climate improves after the pandemic.