• NNA/KYODO

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Electronics giant Panasonic Corp. will this year bring to an end to decades of white goods production in Thailand, part of its global restructuring in the home appliance sector.

In a bid to streamline its manufacturing bases in Asia to better compete with Chinese and South Korean rivals, the company is moving production of washing machines and refrigerators to Vietnam, Yuuka Fujita, a spokeswoman at the company’s Osaka headquarters, said Wednesday.

Panasonic Appliances (Thailand) Co. plans to stop production of washing machines at the end of September and refrigerators by the end of October after over 40 years of operations.

After winding itself up on March 31, the group will transfer production of the two items to a base near Hanoi, Fujita said.

Last year, Panasonic switched air-conditioner manufacturing from Thailand to Malaysia, where the group has a global production hub with that can produce 2.8 million units a year and ship them to over 120 countries and regions, she said.

In Thailand, where it has an annual capacity of 500,000 units, Panasonic began producing air conditioners in 2017, largely supplying them to emerging countries in Asia, the spokeswoman said.

The moveis “part of the strategy to establish an efficient production scheme,” she said. By restructuring appliance manufacturing in Southeast Asia, the Japanese group intends to cut labor and parts procurement costs as Chinese and South Korean challengers boost market share in the region.

The global coronavirus pandemic and subsequent slowdown in demand for white goods were not behind the move, Fujita added.

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