Nissan Motor Co. has set up a wholly owned sales company in South Korea in preparation for its bid to enter that market in mid-2005, a Nissan spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Nissan Korea Co. was set up Feb. 19 with capitalization of 1 billion won.

Nissan plans to raise this capital to 10 billion won, according to Nissan spokeswoman Haruko Wada.

Nissan would be the third Japanese automaker to sell autos in South Korea, following Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Sales of imported cars have been on the rise in South Korea since 1995, when the country cut tariffs on foreign cars to 8 percent from 20 percent.

Toyota in 2001 became the first Japanese automaker to gain a foothold in South Korea after a ban on Japanese car imports was fully lifted in 1999.

Honda is scheduled to launch auto sales in South Korea in the first half of this year.

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