BRASILIA Dec 17 Brazil is pushing ahead with
tighter auto safety standards but will study lower import taxes
to offset the impact on car prices, officials said on Tuesday,
confirming a Reuters report on Monday that the government would
not delay the requirements.
Along with the lower tariffs for key safety equipment,
Finance Minister Guido Mantega said he was looking at an
exception for a classic van made by Volkswagen.
Mantega said there was no room for an airbag or anti-lock
breaks on VW's so-called "Kombi" - an icon of the 1960s still
made in Brazil - so it may be the only model not required to
carry that equipment starting next year.
Last week, Mantega provoked a firestorm among customer
protection groups when he said concerns about higher car prices
might lead the government to put off the safety standards taking
effect in January.
Mandatory air bags and anti-lock brakes could push car
prices up by 1,000 reais to 1,500 reais ($430-$650), according
to national automakers association Anfavea.
Pricier cars could hurt sales just as President Dilma
Rousseff is struggling to jumpstart the economy and reduce
inflation ahead of the 2014 presidential election.
The government will present a series of measures on Monday
aimed at easing the cost of better safety equipment for new
cars, Mantega said. Possibilities include cutting the import tax
on those parts to 2 percent from between 14 and 18 percent, as
Reuters reported this week.
Mantega said lowering the IPI industrial tax for the auto
industry again is not among the options considered. The gradual
increase of that tax after generous incentives last year has
dragged on auto sales in Brazil, which are set to drop in 2013
for the first time in a decade.
Brazil is the world's fourth-biggest auto market, with VW,
Italy's Fiat SpA and U.S.-based General Motors Co
and Ford Motor Co selling more than 70 percent of
new cars in the market.