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Mitsubishi Motors to resume exports to Vietnam

Tighter inspection rules had halted shipments since January

Mitsubishi Motors exports vehicles made in Thailand to Vietnam. (Photo by Rei Nakafuji)

BANGKOK -- Mitsubishi Motors expects to resume shipments to Vietnam as early as June, complying with stricter inspection requirements on imported cars that went into effect at the beginning of the year.

Vietnam in January put in place a rule requiring quality certifications from the country where vehicles are built, as well as inspections of each shipment lot. This forced Japanese automakers to suspend exports to the Southeast Asian nation. Only Honda Motor has restarted shipments so far.

Mitsubishi Motors, which exports vehicles made in Thailand to Vietnam, expects to receive quality certification from Thai authorities. The Pajero Sport SUV and the Mirage subcompact are among the vehicles likely to be shipped soon.

"Vietnam is a key market going forward," Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) President and CEO Morikazu Chokki told Nikkei. "We want to restart exports as we closely watch the government's moves."

Prior to the halt, the automaker's exports to Vietnam were growing. Shipments from Thailand totaled about 4,400 vehicles for the nine months through December 2017 -- meaning the full-year figure through March 2018 was on track to surpass the prior year's roughly 4,900 units.

Given the growth of the Vietnamese market, Mitsubishi Motors is "considering" setting up its own factory there, according to CEO Osamu Masuko. The automaker and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. jointly own a plant in Vietnam, with each holding stakes of a little more than 40%.

In addition to Thailand, the automaker's presence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region includes plants in Indonesia and the Philippines.

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