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“What is now a human and health drama can become an economic and social disgrace”

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M. Trigueros

MADRID

Updated:04/09/2020 01: 50h

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Manufacturers of cars, motorcycles, buses, trailers and components, dealers, sellers, car rental, scrap and recycling companies, workshops and financial companies have asked the government on Wednesday for a crash plan with which to resume its activity paralyzed by Covid-19.

The president of the National Association of Manufacturers (Anfac) explains to ABC the prompt demands of the sector.

What measures to boost demand do you think the government should activate?

Today, the first thing is to end this coronavirus pandemic, which is costing so many lives. But what is now a human and health drama can turn into an economic and social disgrace. So we are already working on the day after, we can’t wait for it to happen. It is necessary to lay the foundations of a national shock plan to boost demand that helps the global recovery of the market, promotes the renovation of the park with the new and best available technologies and is compatible with environmental objectives. Registrations fell 69% in March and April will be worse. Throughout the year, we will record a drop in deliveries of around 30%.

For this reason, it is necessary to establish a homogeneous aid plan for the entire territory, for the acquisition of new vehicles, regardless of their type (passenger car, commercial or industrial) or source of propulsion and which also encourages scrapping. In addition, support measures for the recharging infrastructure must be implemented, both on interurban and urban roads and support for individuals and companies.

In tax matters, what would be necessary to avoid the suffocation of car manufacturers?

In this case, taxation can be used as a useful tool to guarantee the viability of companies. In this case, measures such as tax deferrals and social contributions would inject liquidity into companies, benefiting small or low-income companies that would not survive the impact. This is already being done by other European countries, including our vehicle manufacturing competitors.

On the other hand, and in the medium term, taxation can be a key instrument to promote the renovation of the park and stimulate demand. We think that it is possible to evolve to a green taxation, more oriented to the use, and that avoids the barrier of fiscal entrance that still exists to the purchase, as it is the case of the registration.

Is job flexibility key to facilitating recovery?

It is a measure that together with social dialogue has been very useful in other moments of crisis to lift the automotive industry. Spain is the ninth largest producer of vehicles. This leadership depends directly on international demand. Labor flexibility has allowed us to adjust production rates to the markets. In this way, we have been able to match the recovery of employment with the growth of production. Our employment is highly qualified and we have a commitment to the country and to our workers. We cannot drop the industry.

Can an investment aid plan help to overcome the crisis in the sector?

It must be taken into account that Spain is the second European producer of vehicles without the parent companies being in the country. The lack of headquarters effect causes us to have to do much better than the rest. The competitiveness of our factories is essential. Plans to support investment, process R&D and the implementation of Industry 4.0 are among our priorities.

Do you think that there is sensitivity in the Government towards the needs of the automotive industry?

The automotive sector represents 10% of national GDP and 9% of employment. In addition, the fact of having spent nearly a month with the factories stopped places us in a particularly weak position. The Government should be aware that having the collaboration of one of the country’s main economic engines could help accelerate recovery as soon as possible and dialogue is fluid. This recovery needs support, circumstantial, but it should shorten the crisis and allow us to recover as quickly as possible.

Does the future competitiveness of Spanish factories depend on the materialization of the Shock Plan requested by the sector?

The definitive impact of this crisis will be measured, in our industry, by two factors: by the duration of the stoppage of the factories and by the forcefulness and effectiveness of the measures put in place for the automotive industry. We need these measures, as I said, because we are the second European producer of vehicles without headquarters in the country. The competitiveness of our factories is key to their viability and to maintain this position, this national shock plan is necessary.

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