Exclusive interview: Suzuki Thilawa
Mr Asano, Managing Director of Suzuki Thilawa company.
Suzuki has a factory in the Thilawa industrial zone, and another factory in South Dagon established in 1999. So, that makes two factories.
The factory in Thilawa produced 11,000 units in 2019. We are currently only producing for the local market in Myanmar, so we have no exports yet.
I want to talk about market activity first. The AAM (Automotive Association of Myanmar) reports Suzuki has a 60 per cent market share. Suzuki Myanmar is constructing a new factory in Thilawa industrial zone that operates on a CKT system. We have invested about US$120 million into this new factory.
The CKT factory under construction will finish its assemble line in September 2021. The wiring line and painting line will be complete in September 2022. Once these three lines are finished, we will be able to produce our products with the CKT system and estimate the production of 40,000 vehicles per year.
“One of our challenges working here is implementing the CKT system. But challenges exist everywhere. We believe we can find solutions, together with the government of Myanmar, when we face any challenge.”
We need policies that will benefit foreign investors if we want to attract them to Myanmar. Another thing is that we need to create policies for sustainable development for foreign investment to stream into Myanmar.
Myanmar’s auto industry will develop like the graph rising to the right side. There are 52 million people in Myanmar, and you would need to produce 20,000 vehicles per year to meet the demand for new cars. That is why I believe the auto industry in Myanmar will grow swiftly.
U Zarni Tun, General Manager
Suzuki has two companies in Myanmar. One is the Suzuki Thilawa Motor Co Ltd, and the other one is the Suzuki Motor Co Ltd in South Dagon. They have over 400 employees combined. Since COVID-19 began, we have aligned our management with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports and have implemented necessary assistance and accountability. We have also imparted the necessary information to our staff.
COVID-19 has caused low income for businesses, and we at Suzuki are facing that challenge as well. The cars we produced from before Thingyan and towards its end made zero sales. You could say there was no income.
We had to suspend employees and night shifts. But we still paid our staff full wages. We didn’t lay off anyone either. We are expanding a new factory so you could say the company was able to safeguard the livelihoods of its employees properly.
While Suzuki has more than 400 employees here, there are only 9 Japanese working with them. What I want to point out is that 99% of the company is running on staff from our nation. There are only 3 Japanese now during COVID, so we are operating technology acquired from Japan with Myanmar staff. We regularly send our employees to Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India for training and building capacity in order to develop our human resource.
Suzuki showrooms are increasing across Myanmar and factories are expanding, so this will be of much assistance in grooming the youths of our nation to be an additional source of human resource. We will be hiring new employees by the hundreds when we open our new factory.
The increase in vehicle production for Suzuki can be of great assistance to more opportunities in technology and employment for Myanmar citizens. That is why Suzuki will adhere to the comprehensive policies of the Myanmar government.
(By GNLM Team)