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The United States emerged as the largest export destination for South Korea's
vehicles, beating Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of the year,
a trade association said Monday.
According to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA), South Korean automakers including Hyundai Motor Co. exported 509,330 units to the U.S., followed by Russia with 154,782 units and Saudi Arabia with 134,381 units in the January-September period.
The U.S. became the biggest export destination for South Korean cars thanks to the growing popularity of Korean vehicles like Hyundai Motor's subcompact Accent and Kia Motors Corp.'s boxy hatchback Soul among the American consumers, though Hyundai and Kia operate their plants with a combined 300,000 units of an annual production capacity in the U.S., KAMA said.
Shipments of South Korean cars to the U.S. amounted to US$7.72 billion, taking up 24.1 percent of all South Korean car exports in the January-September period.
KAMA said exports of South Korean cars to Russia sharply rose in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2002, which reached only 4,632 units.
Exports of South Korean cars to Saudi Arabia rose more than seven-fold in the January-September period of the year compared with 18,859 units in the same period of 2002.
By continent, Italy and Spain were the first and second export destinations for South Korean vehicles in 2002 in the Western Europe, but they were replaced by Germany and Britain this year.
In Africa, South Africa ranked as the South Korea's largest car export destination with its car imports from Korea reaching 50, 896 units, while Chile overtook Brazil as the top importer of South Korean vehicles by importing 75,296 units in Central and South America.