UPDATE 1-Toyota to make Thai announcement soon - minister


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TOKYO, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Tuesday that Toyota Motor Corp was likely to announce soon that it would move some truck production to Bangkok from Japan.

"Toyota is now seriously considering relocating its truck production to Bangkok," said Somkid, who is also Thailand's finance minister. He said there should be an announcement from Japan's top automaker in the near future.

Toyota spokeswoman Monika Fujita said no decision had been made on expanding the Thai operations.

Earlier this year, Kyodo news agency reported that Toyota planned to shift production of all Hilux model pick-up trucks, now made by subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd , to Toyota's plant in Thailand.

Somkid said many other companies other than Toyota were planning to build plants in Thailand.

He said that despite concerns that China was absorbing most of foreign direct investment by Japanese companies, he was confident about investment flows to Thailand after speaking with Japanese officials and business leaders.

Asked at a Tokyo news conference about views that Thailand may be in danger of experiencing deflation after inflation was only 0.1 percent in July from a year earlier, Somkid said: "I don't think deflation will happen in Thailand."

"(The low CPI growth is) because we can control inflation and not because of deflation."

He said that even though the U.S. economy may be slowing, Thailand would not suffer significantly because its economic policy had always been to balance domestic growth with exports.

Somkid said economic growth of three to four percent would be "good for me". Thai newspaper reports said on Monday the finance ministry had raised its projection for growth in 2002 to 4.1 percent from 3.6 percent.



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