China to boost auto exports

SHANGHAI -- China will issue policies designed to help boost its vehicle exports, state media said on Thursday, as domestic automakers push for overseas sales in a bid to maintain their rapid growth.

The government would provide fianancing and insurance support to auto exporters and encourage them to team up with transport firms, Zhang Ji, a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce, was quoted as saying by the China Securities Journal.

Zhang said vehicles had the biggest growth potential among all the products exported by China, but gave no further details on the new policies.

SAIC Motor, the country's top car maker, along with its smaller rivals Chery Automobile and Geely Automobile Holdings Co. Ltd., are pursuing sales overseas as competition heats up at home.

The country became a net vehicle exporter for the first time last year, exporting 172,800 units, mostly to developing countries, compared with 161,900 imported units.

The 2005 export figure was up 120 percent from the previous year, while the import figure grew at a much slower 8 percent.

But SAIC and its peers are now eyeing developed markets as well, hoping to become a major global force in the foreseeable future.

Nanjing Automobile Group, which took control of Britain's collapsed MG Rover last year, announced plans last week to build China's first car plant in the United States.

SAIC, the Chinese partner of both General Motors and Volkswagen AG , aims to sell more than 200,000 of its own-brand cars annually in 2010, with 45,000 going to overseas markets, including Europe.

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