Vehicle sales in Brazil rose 11.4% in the first half of the year as interest rates fell, the economy picked up and tax breaks helped fuel demand, the National Association of Motor Vehicle Producers (Anfavea) reportedly said.

Sales of cars, trucks and buses, as measured by new registrations, rose to 723,100 vehicles between January and June, the best performance for the period over the last two years, Anfavea said, according to Reuters.

Helped by booming auto exports to Argentina, vehicle production rose 14.8% to 1.04 million units in the first half – in June, sales rose 6.2% from May to 130,700 vehicles, while production increased 4.3% to 187,200 vehicles, the report said.

Among the top sellers in the first half, General Motors led the pack in the automobile and light commercial truck segment with 170,015 vehicles, Reuters noted, while Fiat was second with 156,669, followed by Volkswagen with 153,277 and Ford with 73,228.

Vehicle exports reportedly surged 53.1% higher in the first half of the year to $3.58 billion, leading Anfavea to revise its forecast for year-end to $6.9 billion from $6.6 billion – last year, auto makers in Brazil exported vehicles worth $5.5 billion.

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“We don’t believe this level of growth will continue into the second semester, but it wouldn’t be acceptable for us to keep our forecasts as they are, given the performance in the first half,” Golfarb told Reuters.

He reportedly added that the jump in exports was largely driven by an economic turnaround in neighbouring Argentina after its financial crisis in 2001 and 2002.

Exports to Argentina grew 150% between January and May to $1.19 billion in vehicles and auto parts – the country was second behind the United States, which bought $1.49 billion in vehicles and parts, Reuters said.