In a significant expansion move, Nissan, the Japanese automotive giant, has announced plans to commence car assembly operations in Myanmar this year. This move underscores Nissan's commitment to tapping into the burgeoning automotive market in one of Asia's final economic frontiers.
Partnering for Success
Nissan's assembly operations will initially be carried out in collaboration with Tan Chong Motor Group, a Malaysian partner. The production will kick off in an existing factory before transitioning to a new facility located in Bago, 80 kilometers northeast of Yangon, Myanmar's commercial hub.
This strategic partnership aims to leverage the Southeast Asian nation's economic reforms that began in 2011, attracting foreign companies eager to tap into a sizable customer base of 51.5 million.
Training and Capacity Building
As part of this expansion initiative, Nissan plans to invest in the training of 200 employees in Malaysia, equipping them with the skills needed for the Myanmar assembly line. The goal is to achieve an annual output of 10,000 units, marking a substantial contribution to the growing demand for automobiles in Myanmar.
Myanmar's Changing Automotive Landscape
The move by Nissan comes at a time when Myanmar's automotive landscape is transforming. Historically, import taxes and international sanctions created a barrier, rendering vehicles too expensive for the majority.
However, recent changes in the economic and political environment have led to a surge in demand for automobiles, evident in the transformation of once-sleepy streets now congested with cars.
Riding the Wave of Economic Reforms
Nissan's foray into Myanmar began in 2013, closely following political and economic reforms that resulted in the lifting of Western sanctions. These reforms opened up Myanmar to international trade and foreign investment after almost five decades of military rule.
With the impending formation of a new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party, investors are optimistic about the continued growth of Myanmar's economy.
Nissan's expansion into Myanmar is a strategic move to navigate the economic dynamics of Southeast Asia. While facing weakening demand in its major Southeast Asian manufacturing hubs, Nissan aims to capitalize on the evolving market in Myanmar.
This expansion aligns with the company's broader strategy, which saw increased profits in the previous year driven by strong North American sales and positive signs of growth in the Chinese market.
Other automotive giants, such as Suzuki and Ford Motor, have also recognized the potential in Myanmar, further emphasizing the region's attractiveness to global players in the automotive industry.