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December 13, 2008

GM should stick to Thai operations
General Motors Corp's major operations in Thailand are highly profitable and are likely to be maintained, even though negotiations to rescue ailing U.S. automakers have collapsed, Reuters quoted an industry researcher as saying Friday.

The US Congress has failed to approve a $14 billion rescue package for its car sector.

"I don't think its big, profitable business in Thailand will be wound down. Its operations here are a money-maker, generating revenue for the company," said Vallop Tiasiri, director of Thailand Automotive Institute, an auto industry research agency.

Vallop estimated that GM had produced nearly 100,000 vehicles at its Rayong plant southeast of Bangkok this year, of which about 21,000-22,000 were for the Thai market.

Thai media reported earlier that GM suspended construction of a $445 million diesel engine plant in Thailand last month due to the global financial crisis.

Work on the facility's site in Rayong was put on hold for one year, Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors in South-East Asia, was reported as saying.A GM spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

During the first 10 months of 2008, GM's car and truck sales in Thailand rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier to 19,178 units, outperforming the domestic market, which grew only 0.2 percent.

GM's Chevrolet brand had a 3.8 percent share of the Japanese-dominated Thai car market.

But Vallop said GM, like other major automakers with export facilities in Thailand, would see its exports fall in 2009 due to the global economic downturn.

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