VENEZUELA: Currency woes hit Toyota output
Toyota's Venezuela factory will halt production for 15 days from 1 March because the government has not sold it enough dollars to import the components it needs, a company executive told a news agency.
The government of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has maintained strict currency controls since 2003 as part of his self-styled socialist revolution that has broadened government involvement in all aspects of the OPEC nation's economy, a Reuters report said.
"We are going to shut operations, we expect for 15 days, as of March 1," Toyota Venezuela planning and marketing manager Felix Orta told the news agency, adding: "This is because we still have not received hard currency to produce the vehicles."
He reportedly said the stoppage would reduce Toyota Venezuela's vehicle production by 2,700 units, or around 10% of annual output, but they expect to begin receiving dollars next week.
Reuters said the local bolivar currency is officially rated at 2,150 per US dollar despite a parallel market that currently trades at around 4,000, aggravated by Chavez's January announcement of a broad nationalisation push.
A Ford Venezuela spokesman told Reuters it is currently working at around 67% of normal outout due to the lack of currency while a General Motors spokesman said he expects the company's plant in Venezuela to be affected soon by the dollar shortage, though output is currently at normal levels.
Reuters noted that the economy of Venezuela, the fourth-largest oil exporter to the United States, grew 10.3% last year on soaring energy prices, helping spur a 50% growth in vehicle sales in 2006.