Russia to spend 20 bln roubles in first half to help car industry

MOSCOW, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Russia’s government will spend 20 billion roubles ($275 million) to support the car industry in the first half of 2016, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said on Tuesday.

Manturov said in an interview with Rossiya 24 television the government would extend measures in place since car sales were hit by a sharp drop in the rouble and an economic slowdown because of weak oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The measures include a car-buying programme that offers discounts to people trading in their old vehicles, a scheme for scrapping cars and subsidies for car loans and leasing.

“The decision has been made by the prime minister to extend the programme of supporting demand into next year ... So far, the decision has been made for the first half year for around 20 billion roubles,” Manturov said.

Some of the measures were introduced in 2013 and the scheme was beefed up over 2014 and 2015.

New car sales took their biggest hit this year in November, falling 42.7 percent year-on-year, according to the Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group.

Russia’s biggest auto maker is Avtovaz which is controlled by the Renault-Nissan Alliance .

It is followed by Hyundai, Renault, KIA , Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan and other foreign brands, most of which have manufacturing plants or assembly lines in Russia.

$1 = 72.6640 roubles Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Gleb Stolyarov; editing by David Clarke