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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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    Toyota begins production in Myanmar after coup delay

    TOKYO (AFP) – Toyota said yesterday it has started operations at its first plant in Myanmar, a project suspended since February 2021 for reasons including “political change” brought by the coup.

    The world’s top-selling automaker said production began last month at the new factory outside Yangon, which was originally supposed to produce 2,500 Hilux pick-up trucks each year.

    “In February last year, due to the various factors including the political change and impact of COVID-19, we decided to halt the production start to secure the safety of our employees and their families,” the Japanese giant said in a statement.

    But “as the circumstances become relatively stabilised, we began production in September… taking into consideration the recent situation comprehensively”, it added.

    Myanmar’s brief period of democracy ended in February 2021, when the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was yesterday sentenced to another six years in prison.

    A Toyota Hilux moving down a production line in South Africa. The car maker said it has started operations at its first plant in Myanmar. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

    Numerous foreign companies have exited the market since the junta seized power.

    But Toyota said an internal probe found that no part of its business or production cycle in Myanmar was directly related to state-owned or military-affiliated firms.

    Human Rights Watch warned the automaker’s decision was not “a sign of normality returning to Myanmar”, citing “killings, torture and arbitrary detention” by the junta to dissenters.

    “Toyota, as well as any other foreign company looking to invest or restart their operations in Myanmar, should conduct human rights due diligence on a rolling basis and avoid compounding existing human rights issues,” the campaign group said.

    Toyota last month announced it was closing its assembly line in Russia due to the supply chain problems dogging firms operating in the sanctions-hit country.

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