Originally scheduled for February, Toyota has decided to delay its opening of its new plant in Myanmar in light of the coup and growing political uncertainty in the country, Nikkei Asia reported. The Japanese manufacturer has decided that it will be difficult to open the plant as scheduled as conflict persists between demonstrators and the country’s military, according to the report.

Located in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone in the south of Yangon, the Toyota plant has been built at a cost of US$52 million (RM210.8 million), and was constructed to produce the Hilux with components imported from other countries such as Thailand.

Toyota will hold an 85% stake in TMY, while the remaining 15% will go to its trading arm, Toyota Tsusho Corporation. “The timing for the opening remains under discussion,” Nikkei Asia quoted a Toyota source as saying.

Optics for the automaker is a concern, because if Toyota proceeds with the opening of the new plant in a time when people are protesting the coup, it could be seen as endorsing the military government and thus draw backlash, not just from the general public, but also from human rights groups and investors, the news site observed.

Toyota is also concerned about facing criticism for launching the plant at this time, as it would mean earning revenue and paying taxes to a government that is currently under military control, the report added.

As of mid-2019, approximately 18,000 Toyota vehicles were sold in Myanmar, or 2.1 times more than were sold in 2017. At the time, models sold in the country included the Hilux, Hiace Commuter and panel van, Avanza, Innova, Camry, Corolla, Vios, Fortuner, Land Cruiser 200 and Rush. All are fully imported models for this market.