General Motors’ is to start selling its top brand Chevrolet in Myanmar (once Burma) through a newly appointed local distributor.

The automaker’s southeast Asia operations (SAO) unit recently signed a letter of intent with Pacific Alpine for distribution, sales and servicing.

The country’s first Chevrolet showroom is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2013. The vehicles will be sourced from factories worldwide “to meet the specific requirements of Myanmar consumers”, GM said in a statement.

Martin Apfel, president of GM SAO, said: “This is a significant milestone for Chevrolet’s expansion across southeast Asia, and signals our commitment to grow in the region. Myanmar has a population of more than 60m people. With the market and economy opening up, and with the increasing affluence of Myanmar’s people, the potential for growth is very high.

“The timing is perfect. We have a fresh and complete portfolio of award-winning products, ranging from pickup trucks and SUVs to cars and fashionable people carriers.”

Pacific Alpine and Pacific-AA Motor is a strategic alliance that was established by Alpine Group Singapore and AA Medical (Pacific-AA Group) Myanmar.

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Alpine Motors (part of the wider Alpine Group) is Chevrolet and Opel’s current exclusive dealer in Singapore while AA Medical is one of the largest distributors of pharmaceutical products and petrochemical lubricants in Myanmar.

Pacific Alpine will draw on Alpine Group’s experience in the automotive sector and its long-standing relationship with Chevrolet while taking advantage of AA Medical’s comprehensive nationwide distribution network, retail expertise and knowledge of the Myanmar market, GM said.

The alliance is responsible for sales, marketing, training, aftersales and customer care, plus dealer network expansion.

“One of the most-watched sectors in Myanmar is the automotive industry. About 90% of the vehicle population in Myanmar is more than five years old. The change in policy to allow the import of new cars will see a swift response from global and regional players. We want to put our foot in the door before the floodgates open,” said Albert Pang, managing director of Pacific Alpine.

“Pacific Alpine has the combined strength of Alpine Group’s automotive experience, especially with the Chevrolet brand, and AA Medical’s (Pacific-AA Group’s) retail experience and coverage. This gives us the best option for a speedy market entry and penetration,” added chairman and CEO Zaw Moe Khine.

Chevrolet and Pacific Alpine also plan to launch a three-tier corporate social responsibility (CSR) program in Myanmar starting next month.

In cooperation with One World Futbol Project, they will distribute ultra-durable footballs throughout Myanmar. They will also make available ‘Find New Roads – Chevy Cares’ vehicles to eight charities and donate engines and technical parts to mechanical training colleges in the country.

In 2012, Chevrolet sold 88,400 vehicles in Southeast Asia where it had a regional market share of 2.7%. In the first six half of this year, the brand sold 41,866 vehicles in the region, up 5% year on year.