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June 27 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will close its assembly plant in the Philippines later this year as part of a restructuring in the region.
The decision to close the plant in Santa Rosa when production of the Escape sport utility vehicle ends was made as part of Ford's effort to cut costs, the company said. The Philippines market will be served by imports from other plants around the world, mostly from Thailand.
"The company studied every possible scenario and opportunity, but we could not make a strong enough business case for future manufacturing," Randy Krieger, Ford Group Philippines president, said in a statement.
The plant, in which Ford has invested about $270 million since it opened in 1998, can build 36,000 vehicles annually and employs 250 people. Some of the affected employees will shift to sales and marketing in the Philippines, or to other plants in the region.
Ford is currently the only volume exporter of vehicles from the Philippines and has exported more than 80,000 vehicles with a value of $1 billion to Southeast Asian markets including Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The No. 2 U.S. automaker still plans to double its number of dealers in the Philippines by 2015.
Ford said a separation package, including training and counseling, will be offered to all of the affected employees.