January 25, 2019 / 1:09 PM / in 22 days

Toyota Motor aims to boost sales in China by 8 percent this year

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Toyota is seen during the first press day of the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, Oct. 2, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp aims to raise vehicle sales in China by 8 percent to 1.6 million this year, the Japanese automaker said on Friday.

Toyota sold 1.47 million vehicles in China last year, up 14.3 percent from 2017.

Toyota’s forecast comes at a time when automakers in China in general are bracing for a tough year after weakness in sales emerged last year.

China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) this month said it expects sales to show no growth, forecasting flat sales of 28.1 million vehicles for 2019. Other government and industry bodies see a 0-2 percent growth in overall demand.

China’s automotive market last year contracted for the first time since the 1990s.

Despite the slowdown in the overall market, sales by Japanese companies especially Toyota remain strong.

Last year China and Japan pledged to forge closer ties during a three-day visit in October to Beijing by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, signing a broad range of agreements including a $30 billion currency swap pact, amid rising trade tensions with Washington.

During Abe’s visit Chinese President Xi Jinping said bilateral ties had returned to the right track and China would ensure that the positive momentum continues, state media reported.

Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; editing by Jason Neely

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