YANGON, April 30 Ford Motor Co opened the
first Western car dealership in Myanmar on Tuesday, hoping its
models can take market share from Japanese brands that dominate
the country's potholed streets.
The move helps Myanmar become further integrated with the
global economy. Western car makers have been slower than Asian
rivals to commit themselves to Myanmar, hobbled by strict
sanctions that only recently have been suspended or lifted by
the United States and European countries.
Ford unveiled a showroom in the economic hub of Yangon -
where sales may be helped by a blanket ban on motorbikes - in
partnership with Capital Automotive Ltd.
That local firm is a subsidiary of Capital Diamond Star
Group, which has already shown its business acumen in
fast-reforming Myanmar by securing a distribution deal with
Japanese brands including Toyota Motor Corp and
Honda Motor Co Ltd already have dealerships in the
country, and Suzuki Motor Corp restarted production of
trucks in May after a three-year hiatus.
Under the military government that ruled until March 2011,
car imports were restricted and vehicles were prohibitively
Thousands of new cars have come since, after a policy change
in September of that year implemented by the quasi-civilian
government of President Thein Sein, and a new foreign investment
law may persuade more car firms to set up operations in time.
Ford is increasingly bullish on Asia as it shifts away from
traditional markets such as Europe, where sales have dwindled
during the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.
"Our entry into Myanmar is the latest step in Ford's
aggressive expansion in Asia Pacific, and will help us to more
fully realize the opportunity within the ASEAN region," said
Matt Bradley, president of Ford ASEAN.