ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Automobile imports surge despite slow growth
Viet Nam has bucked economic difficulties in August 2014 to achieve its highest level of car importation since 2011.
Figures from the General Statistics Office (GSO) showed that the country imported 6,000 cars worth US$120 million this month, its highest level since July 2011, when it imported 7,000 cars worth $122 million.
The figures for this month brought the total number of car imports in the first eight months of the year to 37,000 units worth $801 million, representing a 71.6 per cent increase in quantity and 90.7 per cent increase in value compared with that of the same period last year.
The country's car importation also maintained a momentum of growth in quantity in the last three months, with 5,000 units in May, 5,800 in June, 5,900 in July and 6,000 in August.
"The struggling economy seems to have no effect on car imports, with most brands reporting better business in the country," said Luong Dinh Hung, General Director of ASC Group, a prominent car importer in Viet Nam.
Meanwhile, the Viet Nam Automobile Manufacturers' Association (VAMA) said that it has readjusted its annual selling rate target to 130,000 vehicles, an 18 per cent increase over that of 2013, following better-than-expected sales results since the beginning of this year.
The association, which represents 21 car manufacturers in Viet Nam, said its members sold 12,609 vehicles in July, marking the 16th consecutive month that industry volume has been higher than that of the same month last year.
Jesus Aria, VAMA chairman, noted that sales from January to July this year also increased to 66,159 units, representing a 29 per cent year-on-year rise.
According to Duong Dinh Giam, Director of Viet Nam's Industrial Policy and Strategy Institute, the country is expected to go through a period of "automobilisation" once annual per capita income rises above $3,000.
"Viet Nam will soon reach a tipping point as incomes are seeing strong growth year-on-year," Giam added.
IMF estimates show the country's per capita income was $1,901 in 2013, the year that witnessed a marked increase in the volume and value of Viet Nam's car imports. In that year, the country imported 34,500 units worth $709 million, representing a 25.9 per cent rise in volume and a 15.2 per cent rise in value year-on-year.
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