UPDATE 1-Thailand lets Honda import cars tariff-free to June

Newswire

* Honda is car firm worst affected by floods

* Exemption to run until June

* Honda and other car firms can bring in parts tariff-free (Adds further details, quote)

BANGKOK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Thailand's government said on Tuesday it would let Honda Motor Co import assembled cars tariff-free until next June to replace output lost because of recent flooding.

All car producers in the country would be able to import parts and machinery tariff-free to replace goods damaged by the flooding, but only Honda will be allowed to bring in complete cars until June 30 and with effect from Oct. 25.

The imported amounts must not exceed the total normally produced in the country, Industry Minister Wannarat Channukul told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"We will offer this until June next year because we expect the situation to get back to normal by then," Wannarat said.

Honda has an assembly plant with capacity of 240,000 cars a year on an industrial estate that was flooded in central Ayutthaya province, affecting 4.7 percent of its global output.

Most of the other big car firms have their factories in the east in Rayong province.

Japanese business daily Nikkei reported on Tuesday that Honda planned to resume production at its flood-hit plant from April.

Honda said in a statement on Monday that it had finished draining water from the plant on the Rojana Industrial Park and had started the process of cleaning up.

Thailand's worst flooding in at least 50 years shut down seven big industrial estates in October, affecting the car and electronics sectors in particular. More than 600 people have died and parts of Bangkok are still under water. .

Thailand is a regional hub for the world's top car makers, and even if most of their big assembly plants were spared, car part firms have suffered, disrupting supply chains.

Thailand's government had already moved to help industry by waiving tariffs on machinery imported to replace items ruined in the floods and on damaged raw materials that would go into re-exported goods.

(Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Alan Raybould)

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