March 24, 2020 / 3:08 PM / 15 days ago

Yazaki halts car parts production in Bulgaria due to coronavirus

SOFIA, March 24 (Reuters) - Japanese car parts maker Yazaki said on Tuesday it was closing its three plants in Bulgaria until April 5 in response to the measures aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak and decreased demand for its products.

Yazaki’s plant shut-downs will be in place at the company’s three plants in southern Bulgaria, affecting around 2,470 employees in the town of Dimitrovgrad and around 2,000 in the towns of Sliven and Yambol.

“These measures were taken in response to the increasing spread of COVID-19 coronavirus... as well as the halt of production of vehicles and original vehicle equipment by many of our clients,” the company said in a statement.

More than 250 companies in Bulgaria produce car components for the world’s leading car makers, employing more than 65,000 workers in an industry that generates about 8% of the Balkan country’s economic output, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors of its economy.

Bulgarian economists are worried that the small and open economy will take a serious hit as major car makers across the globe are shutting manufacturing over the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Tuesday, Bulgaria had 202 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and three deaths. The Black Sea state has introduced a state of emergency, closing schools, restaurants and bars and advised social distancing until April 13.

Yazaki, a leading producer of wiring harnesses, has already shut down production or some of its activities at 20 regional plants due to the coronavirus outbreak until the end of March, the statement said.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova. Editing by Jane Merriman

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