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Toshiba Starts LCD Assembly Lines in Thailand
Sep 8, 2005
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Toshiba Corporation of Japan has resumed making television sets in Thailand after a 3-year halt but with a change in focus to LCD products. The assembly of all flat panel display products, particularly liquid crystal display (LCD) was switched last month to Thai Toshiba Industries Co in Nonthaburi, said Yasuhide Ozo, marketing director for audio products at Toshiba (Thailand) Co. Previously, sets were imported from Indonesia, Malaysia and China.

The move would help Toshiba to increase competitiveness and management flexibility, he said. The prices of Thai-made LCD products were not only cheaper, but units could be made to local consumers' tastes and able to respond more quickly to market changes.

''We have to pay around 20 percent import tax on LCD sets from Indonesia, while the import tariff on spare parts is lower,'' said Ozo. Toshiba uses only about 10 percent local content.

Executives did not disclose the investment in the revamped assembly facility. Monthly capacity is about 1,000 sets, to meet domestic demand. Exports may begin later. Toshiba also has flat-panel facilities in Japan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the company chairwoman, said Toshiba moved TV production to Indonesia in 2002 to benefit from economies of scale. She said Toshiba had restarted local assembly of both LCD and plasma sets, but would focus initially on the LCD range because of greater demand.

Hidenori Matsui, the company's president, said demand for flat-panel products was rising more quickly than expected, particularly in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. Demand is beginning in Asia and will hit Thailand soon, he said.

Nattaphong Areekul, a company vice-president, said the demand for LCD sets in Thailand would reach 6,000 units this year, 25,000 next year and 50,000 sets in 2007. (Bangkok Post)

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