Automotive industry officials in Turkey do not expect the war in Iraq to not hurt the exports of the sector because it had a quick end and are anticipating receipts from auto exports to reach $6 billion this year, the Anatolia news agency reports.

Automotive Industry Association (OSD) chairman Ali Ihsan Ilkbahar predicted that the sector's exports this year would reach 320,000 units - which compares with 262,000 units in 2002.

"The short Iraq war will not hurt exports. It could have been different if war lasted longer," Ilkbahar said.

Separately, the Turkish Daily News reports that Dominique Correze, general manager of Oyak Renault, a venture between Turkish Oyak and French automaker Renault, stressed that they didn't see a need to revise the company's annual output and export projections due to the Iraq war.

The increase in the sector's exports in the first three months owes to the launch of new car and commercial vehicle models, Corezze said.

"Under our six-month forecasts we are expecting the share of domestic sales in total output to increase, despite the fact that the majority of our production will be shipped as exports," he added. Oyak Renault plans to start exporting Megane II model to 75 countries in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

Ford Otosan general manager Turgay Durak also said export plans were proceeding well. Ford Otosan exported 16,265 vehicles in the first quarter and earned 173 million euros, which Durak said contributed positively to the company's financials. The company aims to export some 80 thousand vehicles this year to raise 850-900 million euros from international sales.

"We are not considering a revision to our year-end projections. The feedback from Europe is extremely strong and positive," he said.

Toyota's Turkey arm, which exports the majority of its output to Europe, didn't revise its 2003 projections in the aftermath of the Iraq crisis either. Toyota plans to manufacture some 73,000 vehicles in 2003.