• Kyodo

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Japan and the United States wrapped up two days of talks on automobile trade Thursday and agreed that China should step up efforts to prevent the imitation of foreign auto parts.

The two countries focused on multilateral auto issues on the second day, following the first day’s session on bilateral issues, Japanese officials said.

They agreed that China needs to increase efforts to protect intellectual property rights, including those for foreign auto parts, the officials said.

There was no discussion on specific measures to encourage China to protect intellectual property rights, because officials feel it is necessary to take unified action with other industries on the issue, Japanese officials said.

Japan also told the U.S. that the two countries, acting together with Europe, should try to open up world auto markets through a new round of global trade talks under the World Trade Organization.

On the first day, the two countries discussed the development of environmentally friendly fuel-cell cars and foreign access to the Japanese auto parts market.

The two-day meeting marked the first plenary session for the bilateral Automotive Consultation Group, which was created in October 2001 as a new consultation framework for auto and auto parts trade following the expiration of the bilateral auto trade accord at the end of 2000.

Under the framework, the two countries hold auto talks annually. The date and venue for the next meeting have yet to be arranged.

Used car sales fall 3%

Mirroring the dwindling market for new cars, sales of used cars and commercial vehicles fell 3.1 percent in 2002 from the previous year to 5.36 million units, down for the second straight year, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Friday.

The association attributed the poor results to weak consumer spending and a tendency by car owners to keep their vehicles longer.

Overall sales of used cars dropped 2.9 percent from 2001 to 4.61 million last year. Although sales of cars with engine displacements of more than 2,000cc rose 1.7 percent to 1.86 million, sales of smaller cars fell 5.8 percent to 2.74 million.

Used truck sales decreased 3.6 percent in 2002 from the previous year to 580,199, the lowest number on record. The association began collecting such statistics in 1978.

For December alone, sales of used cars and commercial vehicles dropped 2.3 percent from the same month in 2001 to 429,882, down for the third consecutive month, the association said.

Sales of used cars in December decreased 2 percent to 369,940, while used truck sales also fell 4.6 percent to 45,378.

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