Trade and industry minister Alec Erwin said the export market was the key to the country's growth in the global economy, and the automotive industry was a vital contributor.

Trade and industry minister Alec Erwin said the export market was the key to the country's growth in the global economy, and the automotive industry was a vital contributor.

According to , within the next five years projected motor industry exports of 200 000 units a year would be achieved.

Erwin said automotive exports were growing by a compound annual rate of 39 per cent.

"The automotive sector's contribution in 2001 comprised 12 per cent of South Africa's total exports, up from four per cent in 1995," he said.

Erwin said this export growth was due to the Motor Industry Development Programme, which has been extended.

"Considering what has already been achieved in a relatively short period, the future looks promising for this key industry," he said.

According to National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa, aggregate industry vehicles exports during 2002 had increased by 17 013 or 15,7 per cent to 125 306 units compared with the 108 293 vehicle exports in 2001. In revenue terms, vehicle exports during 2002 exceeded R15 billion.

The total export of cars increased from 97 599 to 113 025 from 2001 to 2002, while light commercials went up from 10 229 to 11 699 units. Medium commercials increased from 465 to 582. A total figure of 147 600 units was projected for 2003.