UPDATE 1-China says to ease car buying curbs to boost sales

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BEIJING, April 2 (Reuters) – China’s commerce ministry will relax or remove restrictions on car purchases in some regions to help sales of new vehicles, while accelerating plans to boost the scrapping of old ones.

Wang Bin, the deputy head of the ministry’s consumption promotion division, said the ministry will continue to help “realize the consumption potential” in the world’s largest auto market, during a weekly briefing held online on Thursday.

China’s auto industry suffered a 79% drop in sales in February and expects a fall of around 10% in the first half of this year.

While the coronavirus outbreak has been mostly contained at home, Liu Changyu, another senior commerce ministry official, said, its spread overseas will inevitably impact China’s auto trade and its supply chain.

The ministry will therefore guide Chinese automakers to expand orders from overseas suppliers, stock up on inventory and make alternative plans, Liu said. (Reporting by Yawen Chen, Yilei Sun and Se Young Lee; Editing by Alex Richardson and Alexander Smith)

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