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Trade tensions impacting Japanese carmakers

Feb 06,2020
Trade tensions between Seoul and Tokyo have taken a toll on foreign vehicle sales in Korea, a trade group said Wednesday.

The number of newly registered foreign vehicles fell to 17,640 units last month from 18,198 in January 2019, a 3.1 percent drop, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.

“Local consumer sentiment against Japanese products continued to affect overall imported vehicle sales,” a spokeswoman for the industry association said in an interview.

Japanese carmakers’ sales plunged to 1,320 units in Korea last month from 3,752 a year ago.

Five Japanese brands are available in the Korean passenger vehicle market - Toyota Motor, its luxury brand Lexus, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor and its premium brand Infiniti.

The three best-selling models last month were Volkswagen’s Arteon 2.0 TDI sedan, Mercedes-Benz’s E 300 4MATIC sedan and GM Korea’s Chevrolet Colorado pickup, the trade group said.

Last July, Japan tightened regulations on exports to Korea for three high-tech materials critical for the production of semiconductors and displays.

In August, Japan officially removed Korea from its list of countries given preferential treatment in trade procedures.

The Japanese moves are widely seen as retaliation against the Korean Supreme Court rulings that ordered Japanese companies to compensate Korean victims of forced wartime labor during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.