Auto Service World
News   November 29, 2001   by Auto Service World

Board Recommends Shut Down of Canadian Japanese Car Dealer Association

The 1,000 member Canadian Association of Japanese Automobile Dealers (CAJAD) announced that its board of directors has recommended the association be shut down.
CAJAD has been an influential voice in the automotive industry since its formation in 1982 and has worked to achieve an end to automotive import restrictions, achieving several reductions in auto and parts tariffs and the inclusion of Japanese auto sector representatives in automotive public policy discussions.
An Annual General Meeting will be held in December at which members will vote on the wind up resolution of the Board.
CAJAD supported the FTA and NAFTA agreements and its research was used in the WTO proceedings which led to the end of the Auto Pact. Since its formation tariffs have been lowered by over fifty per cent from 12.8 per cent to their current level of 6.1 per cent.
“The primary objective was to achieve free trade in the auto industry and this mission has been largely accomplished,” stated CAJAD president, Richard Buckley in a recent letter to the association’s membership. “The progress we’ve helped to make on the trade policy front stimulated the industry and made it more competitive”.
CAJAD executive director Brian Caldwell says, “There is perhaps one regret…that the Government chose to apply tariffs to more vehicles following the WTO decision, rather than eliminating them altogether. But it’s clear to the Board that the final step towards free trade in autos – the total elimination of tariffs – cannot practically be accomplished by a unilateral Canadian lobby. It will take a multi-lateral agreement, most likely through the WTO.
“The changes in trade policy led to a change in the political interests of our constituents. In addition, the business interests of Japanese manufacturers and dealers have been diverging. They are no longer homogeneous. Cross-ownership, marketing and technology alliances, varying reliance on imported product, and different manufacturing and retail positioning have segmented our OEM’s and therefore our dealer groups. These factors combined to shift the foundations on which the association was built. It has become impractical to try to maintain a common front with the government, media and the general public."
Mr. Buckley’s letter confirmed that these developments have been unfolding for some time, and there had been thought of dissolution late last year. “The board’s decision then was to continue for a time because Japanese brand dealers, many of whom are smaller operators, were facing many crucial store-level issues and were under significant pressure from their OEM and other suppliers. New technology, staffing, marketing, sales, training and access to reliable information were a few issues about which dealers were concerned. The association was in a position to try one more time to be a catalyst of change by providing dealers a way to take back some control of their businesses.”
Over recent months, the association built, conceived as an on-line neighborhood and market of dealers in which ideas, information, products and services could be exchanged, and best-of-breed services accessed under terms, conditions and pricing set by dealers.
Many on- line services are now available to members, and several others are imminent. The concept offers dealers the ultimate benefits of more efficiency and more dealer control of their business future. Mr. Buckley commented.
“Notwithstanding the potential benefits to dealers of such a venture, the Board has concluded that CAJAD is no longer in a position to continue the project.
"It will take more time, a bigger marketplace of dealers and more capital than we have at our disposal to gain a critical mass of participation. And the fact is, the association’s very nature and make- up restrict it from trying to proceed further. After a lot of deliberation, and remembering the trade work was for all practical purposes complete, the board decided to recommend dissolution to the members.”

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