Brazil's Sao Paulo state to offer tax incentives to automakers

FILE PHOTO: Ford Motor Co's employees drink coffee during assembly after the company announced the closure of oldest Brazil plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s Sao Paulo state said on Friday it would offer fresh tax incentives to automakers, weeks after Ford Motor Co said it would shut down a plant there with 3,000 employees and General Motors Co hinted it might do the same before backtracking.

Sao Paulo is the historical center of Brazil’s auto industry, which was one of the world’s five biggest until a recent downturn from which it is still recovering. It has been losing ground in recent years to other Brazilian states which have showered automakers with incentives.

Sao Paulo state Governor Joao Doria said at a press conference that the state would offer a discount of up to 25 percent over Brazil’s ICMS value-added tax to automakers which invest at least 1 billion reais ($258.78 million) and create 400 new jobs.

Doria added that the government is still trying to help sell Ford’s factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, which is scheduled to be closed by year’s end. He said the state is negotiating with three companies, which he did not name.

He did not say when the incentives would take effect. Legislative approval is not required.

Ford declined to comment, while GM said in a statement the incentives would help as the industry seeks to be more competitive.

Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Writing by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Richard Chang