Sun | Jun 7, 2020

Japanese suppliers 'competing directly' with J'can auto dealers - JUCDA demands better policing of permits

Published:Friday | January 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
President of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA), Lynvalle Hamilton, addresses the JUCDA annual general meeting held at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

The Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, JUCDA, has charged that Japanese dealers are competing directly with local operators by selling directly to Jamaican car buyers in contravention of their licence.

JUCDA president Lynvalle Hamilton said that while Japanese suppliers are licensed to do business with local car dealers, some have gone beyond that to set up operation here to sell cars to Jamaicans.

"Our members have expressed concerns about how easy it is for used car suppliers from Japan to be granted dealership certification in Jamaica," Hamilton said at JUCDA's annual general meeting in Kingston on Thursday night.

"These Japanese used car suppliers set up dealerships in our country under the guise that they are selling vehicles to certified used car dealers only; but of a fact they are selling to individuals at unbeatable prices. It is widely believed among our members that if this practice is allowed to continue it will run them out of business. We intend to double our efforts in getting the Government/Trade Board to put an end to this unfair practice," he added.

The Financial Gleaner reached out to the Trade Board for comment but none was forthcoming up to press time. Hamilton did not name the offending suppliers, despite requests for more details.

The JUCDA president said the conduct of the suppliers needed closer scrutiny and that the authorities needed to implement measures to prevent individual sales.

"If it is that these used car suppliers from Japan are to continue operating in Jamaica, a system must be put in place to bar the tax office from transferring vehicles in an individual's name who purchased a vehicle directly from these suppliers. We intend to push very hard for this to happen as it must happen," he said.

Last year, the used car industry recorded one of the highest figures in imports in its history, said the JUCDA president. Just over 35,000 vehicles were imported, representing an increase of 8.5 per cent relative to 2016 when 32,000 vehicles were imported.

The high importation figure, Hamilton said, was attributable to a significant number of new players entering the market, "including a considerable amount of overseas suppliers, which pounded day and night on the doors of local dealers offering very competitive prices".

"Other factors which contributed to the high number of imports include, low interest rates on loans, which made borrowing easier and never to be forgotten, the noticeable strengthening of the Jamaican dollar against the US currency which was not seen in years," he said.