With Brazil's car manufacturing capacity utilisation down to around 65%, carmakers are being forced to look more seriously at additional export opportunities according to local media reports.
 
Elizabeth de Carvalhaes, vice president of the Brazilian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (Anfavea), told Valor Economico newspaper: "Either we look for other markets or we'll have made a bad investment".

Volkswagen do Brasil, the country's leading car exporter, is reportedly planning to export more in 2003 so that its annual trade surplus rises by 80%.

In 2003 the company expects to export US$1.814 billion, import US$570 million yielding a positive balance of US$1.244 billion. For 2002, the company expects US$1.277 billion in exports, US$600 million in imports and a US$677 million surplus.

VW do Brasil is said to be upping exports via the trade agreements signed recently by the Brazilian government with the automotive sectors of Mexico and Chile.

Brazilian first-half vehicle production of 887,785 vehicles was down 9.7% on year-ago levels. Vehicle sales of 719,069 were down 17.7%.

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