Thursday June 13, 2024

Economic crisis forces Honda to shut down plant for over 20 days

Company says it will not be able to continue with its production; plant to remain closed from March 9 to 31

By Business Desk
March 08, 2023
An undated image of the Honda Atlas Cars logo. — AFP/File
An undated image of the Honda Atlas Cars logo. — AFP/File

Auto assembler Honda Atlas Cars on Wednesday decided to close its plant for the remainder of the month, blaming the "current economic situation" for its decision.

The automaker, in a notice sent to the Pakistan Stock Exchange, said that the company would not be able to continue with its production and will be shutting down its plant as its supply chain has been “severely disrupted.”

“Considering the current economic situation of Pakistan whereby the government resorted to stringent measures including restricting the opening of LCs [letter of credits] for import of CKD [completely knocked-down] kits, raw materials and halting foreign payments, the company’s supply chain has also been severely disrupted by such measures,” the company said highlighting all the reasons for the plant shutdown.

Consequently, it said that the company “is not in a position to continue with its production and ultimately has to shut down its plant from March 9 to March 31.”

Pakistan’s economic growth is slowing as one of the highest inflation rates — and higher borrowing costs — erodes demand and a plunge in the rupee makes the import of key automobile parts more expensive.

The auto sector remains engulfed in various crises, with a number of automakers announcing complete or partial shutdowns in recent months citing various reasons including reduced demand in the market and the company’s inability to maintain inventory as companies struggle to secure LCs.

The industry is also hit by import restrictions the coalition government had introduced to control the trade deficit.

Toyota Motors, and Pakistan Suzuki, among several other four- and two-wheel makers have time and again shut down their plants which have affected their sales. Not only the production activity has affected the companies also raised the prices of their CKD models which dented people’s already low purchasing power.

The country remains short of much-needed dollars to meet its import and other external payment commitments. The central bank’s foreign exchange reserves stand at just over $3.8 billion, barely enough for a month of essential imports. However, they are due to get a boost as a loan inflow from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) makes its way to the SBP’s forex reserves.

Meanwhile, the government is constantly trying to woo the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revive the stalled Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme, which if approved by its board would release a funding tranche of over $1 billion.