Car sales in Venezuela fell by 46% in July, the Venezuelan Automobile Chamber (CAVENEZ) reported on Wednesday, as fierce recession and strict state currency controls battered the industry, Reuters said.

A total of 5,608 cars were sold last month compared with 10,371 units a year earlier -sales increased 8% from June, when 5,185 units were sold, according to the news agency.

Accumulated sales during the first seven months of 2003 fell 64% to 32,854 units from 91,267 units in the 2002 period, Reuters added, noting that car sales have dropped sharply due to an economic downturn and political turmoil over the rule of president Hugo Chavez, while a two-month strike in December and January and the tight currency curbs introduced in February also hurt business.