Hurt by uncertainty and political crisis in markets such as Egypt and Syria, General Motors said it expected the automobile industry in the Middle East to show growth that is sustainable, but at a slower rate than in the last few years.
The U.S. automaker temporarily closed its Egyptian assembly plant outside of Cairo last month, and shut its local office, after deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi – they were later reopened but the situation is monitored closely by the American automaker.
“For the entire Middle East market we see growth continuing…maybe not at the rates at which we been growing over the past few years of 7 to 9 percent but still a sustainable growth at 4 to 5 percent,” said John Stadwick, president and managing director of GM in the Middle East.
“We do see a downturn in our regional business so far. We’ll get double digit growth (at GM in the Middle East) year-over-year,” added Stadwick.
The U.S. carmaker has shifted focus from its home base and is eyeing a larger presence in emerging markets as well as the Middle East. Chevrolet gets about 10% of market share in the Middle East and the company is looking to invest in the region to grow this share, Stadwick said.
A growing youth population with rising incomes, and high oil prices mean growth would continue despite deteriorating conditions, he added. Syria may face military action by the United States and France while street fights continue to rage in Egypt after the military ousted a Muslim Brotherhood government in a violent coup in July.