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China to License Auto Exports
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From 2007 China will license auto exports to prevent domestic car makers getting into cut throat competition and to weed out companies that are unable to make the grade.

The Ministry of Commerce didn't provide details of the license quotas or the qualifications required.

According to the 2007 Catalogue for Export License Management no company will be able to export automobiles, full sets of car spare parts or car chassis without prior authorization.

Automobiles are a new item on China's export license management catalogue which covers things like live poultry, farm produce and mineral and energy resources such coal and crude oil. Licensing of automobile exports will start on March 1.

The revision of the catalogue comes just days after the National Development and Reform Commission, the top policy maker, raised the threshold for investment in new auto projects to curb emerging overcapacity.

The country's production capacity reached 8 million units in July 2005 and is expected to hit 10 million in 2007. But demand was only 71.5 percent of capacity in 2005.

Customs figures show China's car exports surged 120 percent from 78,000 units in 2004 to last year's 173,000 units. This year the figure is expected to top 300,000 with sedans accounting for 90,000 which is more than double the figure from a year ago.

A problem China must face is that about 600 of the 1,025 firms that exported vehicles -- whether manufacturers or trading agencies -- exported less than 10 units. A staggering 160 firms exported just one car per year.

In introducing licensing China hopes to weed out firms with minimal exports as well as companies that fail to guarantee product quality or provide solid after-sale services. Such firms will be prohibited from exporting automobiles to prevent further damage to the reputation of the indigenous car industry.

In August the Chinese government designated Changchun, Shanghai, Tianjin, Wuhan, Chongqing, Xiamen, Wuhu and Taizhou as the sites for the country's main auto factories and its major export production base.

China-made automobiles are mainly sold to emerging markets such as the Middle East, Latin America and Russia. The goal of China's auto industry is to account for 10 percent of the world's auto trade in 10 years. This requires export orders worth more than US$120 billion.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2006)

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