Sales of new motor vehicles across Africa may be bottoming out after years of decline, Mike Whitfield, president of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, said at the weekend. A report by the Automotive Industry Export Council (AIEC) released on Friday showed trade in South African vehicles and components with the rest of the world hit new peaks in 2016. Though the local industry continued to record an overall trade deficit of R32.9bn — R204.1bn in imports against R171.1bn in imports — the gap was down sharply from R45.2bn a year earlier and R62.2bn in 2015. Many of those imports were aftermarket vehicle parts. If they are taken out of the equation, it could be argued local vehicle and components companies recorded a surplus. The AIEC report shows that if one only records trade done through the manufacturing-based Automotive Production and Development Programme, the industry exported R23.2bn more than it imported: R171.1bn against R147.9bn. Components companies ...

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