Chinese Auto Imports Accelerate 43%

U.S. and European imports led the way.

Chinese automobile imports surged in the first nine months of the year as demand among the country's increasingly affluent consumers revved up, state media reported on Nov. 2.

China imported 165,000 motor vehicles from January to September, an increase of 43.2% over the same period in 2005, Xinhua news agency said, quoting figures from the General Administration of Customs.

Imports from the U.S. and Europe led the way with 88,000 vehicles, followed by 49,000 from Japan and 26,000 from South Korea.

Separate data showed China's own auto manufacturing industry posted a 63.8% profit rise during the January-August period compared to the year-earlier period, reaching 22 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion). Xinhua quoted figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The growth ends a trend of declining profits since 2004 and was fueled by strong domestic demand, Xinhua said. Analysts attributed the import surge and renewed demand to reduced import tariffs as a result of China's WTO membership, and the slight strengthening of the Chinese yuan last year. They said an increase in new suburban housing developments around the country played a role in spurring demand because it has spawned a new commuting class.

Copyright Agence France Presse, 2006

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