Sales of imported cars in South Korea fell sharply in October, hit by tightening auto finance credit amid persistently weak private consumption, according to the Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. The decline comes as European automakers protest a prospective EU-South Korea free trade deal, complaining of unfair access to South Korea’s market.

Import car sales show a 14.3% drop from a year earlier to 4,273 units in October.

“October sales of imported cars declined on a credit squeeze and a contraction in consumer sentiment,” said Yoon Dae-sung, executive vice president of the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. It’s the first time this year that the sales of imported vehicles posted a monthly decline.

In the first ten months of this year, sales of imported automobiles rose 25.7 percent to 54,654 units, the association said.

Honda Motor Co. was the most popular foreign brand in South Korea last month with 693 vehicles sold, followed by BMW at 553 and Mercedes-Benz at 529.

October car sales in Korea for domestic makes reached 104,982 units (up 0.3% on last year) and domestic market share of the Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors combined stood at 81.8%.

See also:  BELGIUM: ACEA criticises proposed EU-South Korea FTA