Toyota Venezuela slams brakes on vehicle assembly, irks president
By Andrew Cawthorne
CARACAS Feb 10 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp plans to halt vehicle assembly in Venezuela this week despite a rebuke over the weekend from socialist President Nicolas Maduro and a demand for talks with the Japanese automaker's top executives.
The move by the world's No. 1 automaker would appear to bring vehicle production to a standstill, given it made almost all the units produced in Venezuela in January, according to the local automobile chamber.
Like other private businesses in Venezuela, carmakers are complaining that the socialist government's currency controls are preventing them from importing essential products.
An official at Toyota Venezuela, who asked not to be named, confirmed on Monday that its assembly plant in the eastern state of Sucre would be temporarily shut from Thursday.
"We are in an extremely difficult situation, for different reasons beyond our control, which affect operational continuity, due to shortage of parts," said a Toyota internal memo published by local media and confirmed by the official.
"There will be an indefinite production stoppage," it added, saying workers' salaries would be guaranteed for two weeks.
At the weekend, an angry Maduro accused the company's local representatives of exaggerating problems for political reasons. He ordered his industry minister to reach out to Toyota's Latin American boss or its executives in Tokyo to discuss the matter.
"Every time there's a problem, it's the same news, Toyota's leaving. You don't have to be very intelligent to discover the political motives behind this," said Maduro. Continuación...