Japan’s 11 carmakers exported 4.7 million cars and commercial vehicles in 2002, up 12.8 percent from the previous year and a first year-on-year increase in two years, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Wednesday.

The association attributed the rise to strong demand in the United States and China as well as the recovery of the automotive market in Southeast Asia.

U.S.-bound exports jumped 14.6 percent from 2001 to 1.84 million units in 2002, while exports to Europe rose 6.1 percent to 949,699 units last year. Vehicles bound for Asia leaped 21.5 percent to 426,692 units in 2002, including 96,315 units bound for China, more than double from shipments in 2001.

In December alone, automobile exports rose 23.9 percent from a year before to 405,051 units, the 12th consecutive month of growth, JAMA said.

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