HONDA REPORTEDLY BUILDING AUTO FACTORY IN KAZAKHSTAN

HONDA REPORTEDLY BUILDING AUTO FACTORY IN KAZAKHSTAN

A plant is being built to produce Honda passenger cars in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, a Russian broadcast said Wednesday. The report was not independently confirmed by the company, however.

According to the Russian report, construction has begun on a Honda plant in Ust' Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan. Operations are scheduled to start by 1994 with a planned production of "some 70,000 Honda passenger cars" annually, the Radio Moscow broadcast said.The report also stated that "local arms manufacturing plants" are participating in the construction along with the Japanese automaker, Tokyo- based Honda Motor Co.

Fumihiko Ike, a spokesman for Honda North America Inc. in New York, said he could not confirm the report.

Honda does plan to open a representative office in Moscow, where it already has a showroom and has exported some cars through trading firms, Mr. Ike said.

The company has also had ongoing negotiations on manufacturing motorcycles in the former Soviet Union, he said.

But James A. Mateyka, an auto industry analyst at Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. in Bethesda, Md., said that "there may be some economic logic" to the report, particularly if Honda has plans for countertrade in oil.

Honda could use such a plant for future access to Middle Eastern markets as well as other nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Mr. Mateyka said. If the report proves true, Honda would be the first Japanese automaker to establish operations in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Mateyka said.