Vietnam's secondhand car imports plummet after tax hike

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Only 199 used cars were imported into Vietnam in August following a sharp tax increase that has made used cars much less appealing to local consumers.

The figure represented a fall of 70-80 percent compared to the same month in previous years, news website VnExpress reported, citing customs statistics.

Industry insiders said the sharp decline was expected as the Finance Ministry's new tax policy took effect last month.

Since August 15, used cars with engines of 1.5 liters or more have been subject to the same tax rates as new cars of the same models, which range between 77 and 83 percent. Then an additional US$5,000 to $15,000 tax is imposed on the used car, depending on its engine capacity.

Previously used cars were only subject to a fixed import duty, starting at $3,500 per car.

Most of the secondhand cars brought into the country in August were small cars and thus not affected by the new policy. Only around 30 were large cars of luxury brands, but most were imported before the new tax rates came into force, VnExpress reported.

Car traders said August could be the last chance to bring in secondhand luxury cars.

"These cars will just disappear on the market because with the high taxes, importing them is no longer a profitable business," a trader said.

Vietnam allowed the import of used cars in May 2006. Over the years luxury cars usually accounted for half of the used cars imported.

Total car imports fell 15.8 percent in August from July to 3,331 units, according to customs statistics.

Car sales by the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association, however, rose 9.8 percent year-on-year to 9,518 units.

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