Naamsa has revealed that there was a seven per cent decrease in the number of cars exported from South Africa in the first two months of the year as sales declined on overseas markets.

Naamsa has revealed that there was a seven per cent decrease in the number of cars exported from South Africa in the first two months of the year as sales declined on overseas markets.

According to , the unexpected end to the steady build-up of vehicle exports seen in recent years has alarmed the trade and industry department, “as it highlights growing uncertainty as to whether South Africa can sustain the growth of this vital export sector”.

Naamsa says exports of all vehicles in January and February were 761 units down on the first two months of last year, a 3,9 per cent fall, with cars showing a decline of over seven per cent.

Of the three major car exporters, DaimlerChrysler and BMW said there had been no significant decrease in their exports, but Volkswagen admitted to recent problems in securing sales in overseas markets, notably Europe and Asia-Pacific.

"Due to the vagaries in the markets to which our Golf and Polo products are exported, there has been a decline in the first quarter of this year as opposed to the same period last year," said a Volkswagen spokesman was quoted as saying.

"We do, however, expect that for the total year, the export of fully built cars will remain constant around 30 000 units or even grow slightly," he added.

Naamsa warned that "future automotive component and vehicle exports were expected to come under pressure, principally due to the rand's strength which had hurt the industry's competitiveness.

"Following an increase in world motor vehicle production of 4,7 per cent in 2002, the latest projections suggest global output of the automobile sector would decline by 1,5 per cent this year.

"The momentum of SA vehicle exports has also shown a tendency to decline since the middle of 2002, on the back of softening global markets," Naamsa said in a statement.

A trade and industry department official said it had been expected that SA vehicle exports would continue to rise, and that he was alarmed by the latest Naamsa statistics.

"We will be discussing this with the industry," he said.

Original article from Car