Honda in talks with Vietnam government over back taxes claims

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Honda Motor Co., Japan's third- largest carmaker, is in talks with the Vietnamese government over claims that its local unit owes "back taxes" from importing parts to the country.

The company's unit in Vietnam was contacted by tax authorities there about the claim, Honda spokesman Tomohiro Okada said by phone Tuesday.

"We have received information on back taxes in Vietnam for the import of our four-wheel parts, but because discussions are still ongoing with the Vietnam tax agency, we cannot announce any details right now," Okada said.

The carmaker is planning to build a factory for two-wheel vehicle assembly in Vietnam by the end of 2012 and has no plans to leave the country, Okada said.

The online newswire VnExpress reported earlier today that the Japanese Embassy in Hanoi asked the Vietnamese government to help resolve a dispute over $160 million in taxes which local customs authorities say the local unit owes. The report cited a letter written by Hiroshi Kitamura, a Japanese embassy official, to the Finance Ministry and customs department.

Lo Thi Nhu, the head of the import-export tax division of Vietnam's customs authority, said she was in a meeting when reached on her mobile phone and could not immediately comment.

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