Construction of Toyota Myanmar plant kicks off in Thilawa

A Toyota Camry imported from Thailand is seen in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpres/Duc Huy. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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YANGON, Nov 3, 2019, Myanmar Times. Toyota Myanmar Co. Ltd held a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site for its new manufacturing plant at the Thilawa Special Economic Zone on Friday, Myanmar Times reported.

The US$52.6 million plant is expected to be ready and operating from February 2021 onwards. It will produce 2500 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks per year using the semi knock-down method. Around 130 jobs will be created. Toyota currently imports the Hilux, Vios, Rush and other vehicles for sale in Myanmar.

The company’s plan is to ride on rising demand for automobiles in Myanmar. In 2018, more than 18000 new vehicles were sold in the country, which is 2.1 times more than the previous year’s, according to available data. By 2020, automakers estimate that the number of vehicles driven in Myanmar will exceed 2 million.

However, Toyota is likely to face strong competition by other car makers which already operate facilities in Myanmar when its plant opens for business in 2021.

Among the competition is Suzuki Myanmar Motor Co Ltd, which claims to now command 60 percent of the market for new cars in Myanmar, according to Keiichi Asano, managing director of the Suzuki Myanmar.

The Japanese car maker this year produced 15,000 vehicles compared to 12,000 in 2018, representing a 25 percent increase in year-on-year production, the company said this month.

Suzuki Myanmar opened its factory in Yangon’s South Dagon township in May 2013, where it began by assembling Suzuki Carry trucks. Over the years, it also began producing the Suzuki Ertiga and Suzuki Ciaz and moved its factory to Thilawa Special Economic Zone to accommodate higher production volumes.

Japan is now the tenth largest investor in Myanmar, with a total of 117 entities having channeled US$1.2 billion worth of capital into the country since 1988, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

During her visit to Tokyo earlier in the month, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also invited more Japanese businesses to invest in Myanmar.

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