Another day, another lunacy:
Venezuela’s President Threatens Toyota, GM
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, beset by a recession that is hurting his popularity, has turned his sights on international car companies, threatening them with nationalization and pledging to ramp up government intervention in their local businesses.
The populist leader has threatened to expropriate Toyota Motor Corp.’s local assembly plant if the Japanese car maker doesn’t produce more vehicles designed for rural areas and transfer new technologies and manufacturing methods to its local unit. He said other car companies were also guilty of not transferring enough technology, mentioning Fiat SpA of Italy, which controls Chrysler Group LLC, and General Motors Co.
And who’s going to take over the Toyota plant? The Chinese!
The president ordered his trade minister, Eduardo Saman, to inspect the Toyota plant. He said if the inspection shows Toyota isn’t producing what he thinks it should and isn’t transferring technology, the government may consider taking over its plant and have a Chinese company operate it.
“We’ll take it, we’ll expropriate it, we’ll pay them what it is worth and immediately call on the Chinese,” Mr. Chávez said in a televised address late Wednesday.
Curiously, the article doesn’t mention what the Chinese have to say – if anything – about this proposed arrangement.
The announcement, however, didn’t take the Japanese entirely by surprise:
Any move to nationalize would have little impact on Toyota’s bottom line. The company’s Venezuelan operations are the smallest of the four Latin American markets where it produces cars, and the Venezuelan market has dropped sharply in the past year, while other markets in the region, such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, have either held steady or grown despite the global recession.
Toyota produced about 13,000 vehicles in Venezuela last year, and sold roughly 30,000 for a market share of 11%, lower than the Japanese car maker’s share in the U.S. Globally, Toyota sold nearly nine million vehicles in 2008.
In a typical Communist move, this will adversely affect Venezuelans (who soon enough will only have Venezuela-Iran Venirauto to choose from) more than it will Toyota or the other companies.
Still, it’s a Merry Christmas message from Hugo to China, and yet another f**k you to private enterprise, Japan, Italy and the US.