China’s Ministry of Commerce has raised the country’s import quota of vehicles and automotive parts to $US10.49 billion for 2004, further increasing market access for foreign car makers, Dow Jones reported.

Following its commitments to the World Trade Organisation, China previously raised its quota for imports of vehicles and components to $8 billion in 2002 from $1.7 billion in 2001, the news agency noted.

Dow Jones said China’s trading partners have complained, however, it is unclear how the government allocates the rights to import vehicles, resulting in much of the official quotas going unused.

Companies can apply to use part of the 2004 import quotas from August 1 to August 31, the ministry said on without giving further details, Dow Jones said.

The news agency said the People’s Daily reported on Friday that China imported 90,600 whole vehicles in the first half of 2003, up 74% year on year, with a total value of $2.47 billion, up 96% while imports of automotive parts more than doubled to $4.38 billion.