SANTIAGO, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Sales of new cars in Chile are forecast to slump over 18 percent in 2015, as economic growth continues to sputter and confidence remains shaky, the national industry body said on Tuesday.
After falling 11 percent in 2014 to some 338,000 units, sales of cars are seen sliding further this year to around 275,000 units, ANAC, the national car association of Chile, said.
Economic growth in the South American country slowed dramatically in 2014, sparked initially by a fall in mining investment but later spreading to the wider economy.
Car sales began falling in February, which ANAC attributed to the slowdown, as well as to uncertainty created by an ambitious new tax reform passed by the government last year.
Sales have also been affected by a depreciation in the value of the peso compared to the dollar, which has driven up the cost of imported goods. The peso weakened around 13 percent in 2014 and is still on a downward trajectory.
Growth in Chile, the top copper exporter, is expected by most forecasters to slowly begin picking up in 2015, but consumer and business confidence is seen remaining weak, surveys showed this week.
The top-selling car brands in Chile are GM’s Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Kia.
Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe