Car sales in recession-hit Venezuela fell by 53% in August compared with the same period a year ago, Reuters reported, citing the Venezuelan Automobile Chamber (CAVENEZ).

A total of 5,021 cars were sold last month compared with 10,600 units sold in August 2002 and 5,608 in July 2003, the report said, adding that sales during the first eight months of 2003 fell by 63% to 37,875 cars from 101,867 sold in the same period last year.

Reuters noted that the oil-reliant nation's economic downturn and political turmoil over the rule of President Hugo Chavez have contributed to the sharp fall in car sales while a two-month strike in December and January and tight currency curbs introduced in February also hurt business.