GM's European unit Opel to start assembling cars in Belarus for Russian market

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General Motors Co.'s European Opel unit says it will start assembling cars for Russia and other eastern markets in Belarus next year.

Germany-based Opel said GM signed an agreement Thursday to start building its Corsa model at facilities owned by partner Unison in Belarus. The cars will be sold in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Opel says the plan is to produce 7,000 cars in the first year. They will be assembled from kits sent from plants in Eisenach, Germany and Zaragoza, Spain.

Senior Opel executive Peter Thom says that the idea is to "build where we sell" and that delivering ready-to-assemble kits to a growing market will mean more business for the western European plants.

The agreement is valid through 2017.