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S. Korean carmakers' exports to EU swing to contraction last year amid recession

Exports of all five South Korean carmakers to the European Union (EU) swung to contraction due to the fiscal crisis in Europe and the subsequent global recession last year.

The nation’s automakers exported 388,223 cars to the EU last year, down 6.5 percent from 426,057 cars of last year, said the domestic car industry. The carmakers’ exports to the EU soared 42.8 percent on-year in 2011 from that of 2010 as the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into effect.

The automakers’ shipments bound for the EU had been forecast to continue to rise last year under the FTA, but the shipments declined because the fiscal crisis in the EU members slashed the demand for automobiles, said the Korea Automobiles Manufacturers Association (KAMA). The demand for cars in the EU dropped 8.2 percent to 12.05 million units in 2012 from 13.13 million units in 2011.

But Korean companies including Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors continue to record large sales by increasing their local production in Europe. Hyundai Motor, which has a production plant in the Czech Republic, sold 251,518 cars in 2011 and 303,013 cars last year, up 20.5 percent on-year. Kia Motors also sold 292,000 cars that were produced at a plant in Slovakia, up 15.8 percent on-year last year. The combined exports of the five domestic carmakers totaled 3.17 million units in 2012, up 0.6 percent on-year. The exports were valued at a record-high $43.63 billion.

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