Car exports rise for first time in over two years

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Car exports rise for first time in over two years

Korea’s automobile exports rose for the first time in more than two years during the fourth quarter of 2016 as demand from Europe increased and oil-producing countries saw their economies improve following a recovery in crude prices.

During the fourth quarter, car exports rose 0.2 percent from a year earlier to $10.7 billion, the Korea Customs Service said Tuesday. It was the first time since the fourth quarter of 2014 that the year-on-year figure rose compared to the previous year.

Exports to the United Arab Emirates increased 51.2 percent, and the figure for Iran more than doubled, jumping 114.9 percent. “The economies of oil-producing companies improved as crude oil prices recovered, and their demand on the Korean economy has risen compared to the past,” said Kim Yoon-sik, a director at the Korea Customs Service.

Dubai crude prices started going up last October, increasing 6.9 percent year on year. The prices then jumped 49.1 percent year on year in December to record $52.08 per barrel, compared to just $26.86 last January.

Demand for cars from Europe increased as well.

Exports to European countries jumped 29 percent year on year in the fourth quarter. The government said it was mainly newly released SUVs and compacts cars that helped the bump. “The United States preferred gasoline vehicles while European companies liked diesel and compact vehicles,” Kim said.

Korea exports the most cars to the United States, followed by Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The government added that exports to Italy and Mexico jumped significantly, by 55.7 percent and 83.5 percent each.

Meanwhile, Korea imported $2.1 billion worth of vehicles, a 20.3 percent decrease from the previous year. “We believe it was mainly due to the individual consumption tax cut that came to an end last June,” Kim said. “Imports from Germany have fallen, while there were more Koreans buying cars from the United States and Japan.”

The data showed imports from Germany dropped 36.2 percent, from $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015 to $1 billion last quarter.

Koreans mostly bought midsize cars from Germany and large vehicles from the United States. Spain was the popular country for Koreans seeking compact cars.

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