Suzuki to begin small-truck production in Myanmar in May

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Suzuki Motor Corp will start manufacturing 100 small trucks a month in Myanmar in May, the Japanese automaker said on Wednesday, after it received approval from the Myanmar government to resume production in the Southeast Asian country.

The move will make Suzuki the only Japanese automaker to be producing vehicles in Myanmar, where many foreign companies are seeking to expand as the country embarks on economic reforms.

Suzuki used to build vehicles in Myanmar for 11 years, until 2010.

"We plan to expand production and sales of four-wheel vehicles from now on in Myanmar, which is undergoing economic liberalisation and infrastructure development," the company said in a statement.

Suzuki, Japan's No. 4 automaker by sales, will utilise its existing plant in Yangon, and about 80 to 90 employees will be involved in operations there, spokesman Hideki Taguchi said.

The small trucks produced there will be sold in Myanmar, he added.

Suzuki, whose Indian subsidiary Maruti Suzuki is the top producer of small cars in India, has said it is also considering building a new plant in Myanmar, although Chairman Osamu Suzuki has said it could take years to be completed.

Suzuki produced about 6,000 automobiles and 10,000 motorbikes in total in Myanmar between 1999 and 2010 under a joint venture that included Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho Corp.

The venture ended in 2010 after its business licence from the government expired.

Suzuki is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings results on Thursday.

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