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Summary: Growth trends in import automobile and auto part markets in China in 2012

By Carmen Lee  From Gasgoo.comFebruary 25, 2013 (Shanghai) – Poor conditions in the Chinese automobile market last year have gone as far as affecting imported automobiles and auto part sales in the country. (Chinese)-compiled statistics from the General Administration of Customs reveal that a total of 1.13 million automobiles and uncompleted knockdown kits were imported in 2012. The figure represents year-on-year growth of 9.1 percent, compared to 27.8 percent growth reported in 2011. Decreasing consumer demand and poor overall macroeconomic conditions have been attributed for the decline in growth.

Following an initial jump in sales, the Chinese import automobile market's performance declined in the final quarter of the year. Due to high consumer demand for imports in 2011, most manufacturers expected sales to grow even further the following year. They greatly increased the supply of imports, leading to sharp sales growth in the first two quarters of the year. Sales growth topped 35 percent in the second quarter. However, that margin contracted to just over 12 percent in the third quarter. Due to the increasingly poor state of the economy and shrinking demand, sales growth fell into the red in the fourth quarter.

Despite slower growth than in previous years, automobile import trade in 2012 was still valued at $47.49 billion. Automobiles were ranked by the State Administration of Customs as China's eighth most valuable import commodity, up one place from 2011 and two from 2010.

Looking at 2012's auto part market specifically, the 3.9 percent year-on-year growth rate for the value of auto part imports was noticeably less than the 11.7 percent rate for that of auto part exports. The difference between the two has grown from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 7.8 percent this year. Worth pointing out is that two years ago, the growth rate for imported auto parts was actually slightly higher than the one for auto part exports.

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