Japan's Suzuki to resume production in Myanmar

Maruti Suzuki

Japanese automaker Suzuki said today it will resume production in Myanmar, the latest in a push by Asia's second-biggest economy to tap the once-isolated state.

Small-vehicle producer Suzuki, which has seen huge success in India with its Maruti Suzuki unit, said it will invest about USD 7.0 million to restart its wholly-owned

Suzuki (Myanmar) Motor in the commercial capital Yangon.

Production will start from May at the factory, which was operated as a joint venture with Myanmar's government between 1998 and 2010, a Suzuki spokesman said.

The plant shuttered after the contract expired, the spokesman added, without saying why the agreement was not extended at the time.

The factory will initially produce just 100 Carry mini-trucks monthly for the local market, with up to 90 local employees.

"With Myanmar's democratisation efforts, investment activities (by foreign firms) are in a full swing," he said.

"The auto market might be in a transition period. But we expect the market to grow, and we wanted to be there when it does."

Yesterday, a delegation of Japan's biggest business lobby, known as Keidanren, told Myanmar President Thein Sein that it will provide money and expertise for the country's development.

Tokyo, meanwhile, has said it would forgive 300 billion yen of the 500 billion yen owed by Myanmar.

Last month, the government said it would extend 50 billion yen of new loans to the long-isolated Southeast Asian nation to help upgrade power systems, boost rural development and fund a planned industrial park.

Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia after decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule. But it has undertaken big economic and social reforms, sparking renewed interest in the country from business abroad.

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