February’s vehicle export figures showed some recovery from January’s strong-rand affected slump, though Naamsa expects an overall increase in export sales this year.

February’s vehicle export figures showed some recovery from January’s strong-rand affected slump, though Naamsa expects an overall increase in export sales this year.

Car exports in February almost doubled from about 4 550 units in January to 8 650 units. Howeve,r the number of units exported in February still fell short of the figures of the corresponding period in 2003 by about 3 000 units, reported.

Naamsa director Nico Vermeulen said the February export figures confirmed that January’s drop was mainly attributable to annual plant maintenance shut-down procedures which sometimes overran.

Vehicle exports had fallen about 5 200 units in January from 8 780 in the same month last year. A drop that JP Morgan said represented a decline of R 666 million rand.

This figure illustrates the importance to the domestic economy of exports from the automotive sector.

But the strong rand was still affecting South African car manufacturers' competitiveness in the global market, according to Vermeulen. He expected the growth in export sales this year to reach eight per cent.

The global economy was showing signs of recovery with export programmes, either planned or underway, which promised healthy long-term export growth.