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Auto Sales to Hit 4 Million Units in 2003
Automobile demand in China is forecast to reach 4 million units this year. Sales of vehicles made in China will amount to between 3.7 and 3.9 million units this year, an increase of around 20 percent from a year earlier, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

In 2002, sales increased by 36.65 percent year-on-year to 3.25 million units, said the association.

Sales of domestically made passenger cars will amount to 1.4 to 1.5 million units this year, up from 1.13 million last year, according to the association.

Sales of domestically made trucks are expected to reach 1.25 to 1.35 million units this year, the association said. Sales of domestically made buses are expected to reach 1.3 million units in 2003.

``The market is expected to maintain a robust growth momentum this year thanks to China's sustainable development, increasing private car buyers and improvements of auto consumption environment,'' said Xu Changming, an analyst with the State Information Center.

Xu predicted the volume of China's vehicle market will surpass that of France and rank fourth in the world this year.

He predicted China's vehicle imports will increase to between 150,000 and 180,000 units this year from around 120,000 last year as a result of the nation's further tariff cuts and a bigger import quota.

Earlier this month, China cut its tariffs on vehicle imports from 83.8-50.7 percent to 38.2-43 percent as part of its commitment to the World Trade Organization.

The nation will offer a total vehicle import quota of US$9.1 billion this year, up from US$7.9 billion in 2002.

``However, vehicle imports will not have a big impact on the domestic market and on China's auto industry,'' Xu said.

Turnover of China's auto industry as a whole will total 770 billion yuan (US$92.8 billion) this year, up from 646.5 billion yuan (US$77.9 billion) last year, the association predicted.

The industry's profits will increase to 60 billion yuan (US$7.23 billion) this year from 43.1 billion yuan (US$5.19 billion) in 2002, according to the association.

But the association revealed four of China's 16 key State-owned automakers were still in the red last year -- Beijing Automotive Industry Corp, Tianjin Automotive Industry Corp, Jinbei Automobile Co and Nanjing Automobile Group.

(People's Daily January 20, 2003)

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