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Automotive market emerging from Asian crisis

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Singapore -- Asia's auto suppliers have been hammered by the regional economic crisis that began in July 1997, but most will live to see the better times that at least one industry analyst believes are on the horizon. Though hard-luck stories abound, Michael Dunne, president of Bangkok, Thailand-based Automotive Resources Asia Ltd., says nearly all Asian automotive suppliers survived the crisis, though many had to sell off equity or secure loans from customers. In the decade before the crisis, the region's vehicle makers increased total production of cars and commercial vehicles by an average of 20% per year, peaking in 1996 at 1.51 million units, Mr. Dunne said. The crisis crushed local demand. Sales in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' four main markets of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia plummeted 68.6% to less than 455,000 units in 1998 from 1.45 million units in 1996. (From Plastics News.)
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