Section 4. Overseas Business Expands Globally
Item 6. Latin America, Middle East, and Africa
TMC's business in the Middle East underwent drastic changes starting in the early 1980s as a result of falling oil prices and the effects of persistent hostilities. Sales of Toyota vehicles in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait peaked at 247,000 vehicles in 1982 and fell to 75,000 vehicles in 1986. Subsequently, sales gradually recovered, but at the end of the 1990s, they were still in the 100,000 to 150,000 vehicle range.
Distributors in the six GCC countries were established entirely with local capital, and TMC had been dealing with some of the companies since the 1950s. In order to enhance communication with these distributors and make rapid responses to problems, TMC established a representative office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1985. Lexus sales began in the GCC countries in 1990, and Abdul Latif Jameel Co., Ltd., a distributor in Saudi Arabia, established the Lexus Development Center in April 1993.
MNSS, a Toyota distributor in Kuwait, sustained devastating damage to structures and vehicles in the August 1990 invasion by the Iraqi army. All Toyota overseas service personnel and employees of Hino and Sumitomo Corporation working in Iraq were able to return to Japan safely, but it took some time to receive approval from the Iraqi government to leave the country, and for a period they ended up being "human shields." Resident employees in Jeddah and Bahrain were forced to evacuate until the end of the Gulf War to avoid the crisis.