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The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association urged the government Thursday to press Vietnam to lift its restrictions on imports of motorcycle parts.

On Sept. 4, Hanoi moved to protect local producers by putting a ceiling on imports of the parts. The move has already prompted Honda Motor Co. to suspend motorcycle production in Vietnam.

In a petition submitted to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the association said the maneuver would result in a loss of 33.1 billion yen for Japanese makers, along with the loss of more than 20,000 jobs in Vietnam.

While Japanese motorcycle makers had planned to produce 700,000 units in Vietnam during the current business year, the import curbs will halve production, according to the association.

Honda was forced to suspend motorcycle production in Vietnam on Wednesday, as its parts imports exceeded the quotas.

Other makers, including Yamaha Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Co., may face similar problems, prompting them to ask the Vietnamese government to alleviate the restrictions, industry officials said.

In early September, Hanoi put a ceiling on combined imports of motorcycle parts for 2002 equivalent to 1.5 million motorcycles and set quotas for each producer. When Honda was given its quota of 280,000 units, its production was already beyond this level, forcing a suspension of production. It had planned to produce 590,000 units this year.

Yamaha, which had planned to produce more than 80,000 motorcycles this year, is expected to reach its quota of 50,000 units by the end of this month, company officials said. Suzuki, which had a production target of 50,000 units, is expected to go beyond its quota of 35,000 by the end of next month, company officials said.

The motorcycle market has grown rapidly in Vietnam in recent years, with sales having reached 2 million units last year.

Hanoi is striving to nurture its motorcycle-related industries and industry officials said the import curbs on motorcycle parts are in line with this goal.

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