Venezuela’s car market fell back sharply in February according to data released by Venezuela’s auto industry trade association, Cavanez.

February car sales fell 46.2% from a year-earlier, to 15,187 units, it said.

So far this year, sales of cars assembled in Venezuela remained the same as last year, but sales of imported cars have fallen 68% in the first two months of the year compared to the same period in 2008, figures show.

Venezuela’s government set import quotas on vehicles early last year and imported car sales fell by 50% last year as a result.

Venezuela’s economic problems – caused mainly by sharper lower oil revenues and ongoing political turmoil – have placed a cloud over prospects for the sector this year.