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Korean auto parts makers target Brazil

Korea’s auto parts manufacturers are aggressively seeking inroads into Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest automobile market.

Brazil has emerged as the world’s sixth-largest automobile producer and sold about 3.6 million vehicles last year, grabbing the world’s fourth place.

The active advancement of local companies has been fueled by the recently growing demand for made-in-Korea components in the South American market.

The automakers ordering Korean auto parts include General Motors, which has enhanced global outsourcing aimed at cost-cutting in emerging markets.

The U.S. carmaker, which has signed a contract for parts worth $6 billion with Korean companies, held a “GM Brazil-Korea Auto Parts Plaza” at a car production factory in Brazil this week.

The event, designed to promote Korean auto parts among foreign buyers, was the second of its kind following the first one in Thailand in April.

“Products from Korea’s 29 companies were exhibited,” said an official of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, which hosted the event in coordination with GM Korea.

He stressed that the 29 companies have already been acknowledged for product quality and global competitiveness.

“The event will be an opportunity for the auto parts makers to widen the scope of its business targets, while they have mainly been depending upon Hyundai Motor,” he said.

Korean auto parts makers have also drawn interest among Fiat and Volkswagen, which captured 22.8 and 20.9 percent of the Brazilian market.

GM, which holds a market share of 19.7 percent has been called one of the Big Three in Brazil.

Last year, KOTRA signed a memorandum of understanding with GM International Operations, which is in charge of all of the automaker’s affiliates excluding those based in North America and Europe.

Up until now, domestic auto parts makers have only provided their products to GM’s operations in the U.S. and Europe. But sales to other countries have been weak.

The MOU is focused on the goal that Korean enterprises will benefit from emerging markets by supplying products to GM subsidiaries there.

KOTRA is considering hosting the events to promote made-in-Korea components to GM units and other foreign buyers in major markets such as India and China.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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