China to Offer Incentives to Scrap Old Cars

Country hopes to bolster auto industry

China plans to offer incentives for car owners to scrap their old models in favor of new ones, in a bid to lift the auto industry as it enters a period of crisis, state media said on Dec. 28.

The measure is part of a new package being prepared in Beijing aimed at avoiding a U.S.-style collapse of the local auto sector, the Xinhua news agency reported. Chinese auto sales fell 14.6% in November from a year earlier.

Other measures that China may adopt to bolster auto sales include cuts in the 10% vehicle purchase tax and easier access to car loans.

The health of the auto industry is crucial for the overall well-being of the Chinese economy as economists have argued more than 150 industries depend on it, including the steel and petrochemical sectors. "The auto industry's current difficulties are what concern me the most," Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying in a recent trip to the southwestern city of Chongqing, a car manufacturing key area of China.

China's economy is under growing pressure due to the global crisis, with overall growth in the third quarter at 9%, the lowest in over five years. The World Bank has forecast that growth in the Chinese economy will slow to 7.5% in 2009, a level not seen for 19 years.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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