With the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and Australia producing sizable savings at the other end, the new 2014 Toyota Corolla sedan is to be built in Thailand and exported to Australia. Estimates are that the saving will be around A$1,000 per car from the cessation of the five percent import duty.
Almost a quarter of the 1,136,227 vehicles sold in Australia in 2013 were sourced from Thailand or the United States, with Thai-built vehicles now accounting for roughly 20 percent of the Australian market, with Japan and South Korean imports also ranked ahead of locally-produced cars. Commercial pick-ups built in Thailand, in particular, have been very popular with the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton. Mazda BT-50, Ford Ranger and Honda CR-V among the top-selling vehicles in Australia in 2013.
Australia’s free trade agreements with Thailand and the US have been the subject of much frustration for the Australian car industry. While the import laws are favorable to overseas manufacturers, exporting to either country is met with stiff tariffs and excise taxes (as opposed to “duty”), meaning Australia-made products are not particularly viable in those markets.
Toyota Australia sales and marketing executive director Tony Cramb said the decision to import the Corolla sedan from Thailand afforded the company more leeway on pricing and equipment.
“Thailand’s automotive manufacturing sector is well-known for producing robust vehicles like HiLux,” he said.
A spokesman also said previous governments had failed manufacturers by not ensuring conditions of free-trade agreements were suitable for exporters. All a little late now, as Australia watches its local car manufacturing industry come to a grinding halt.