(Adds detail, forecasts)
SAO PAULO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The outlook for Brazil’s automobile industry this year is brightening, automaker association Anfavea said on Tuesday, as it predicted more rapid growth in production and sales, and a sharply slower rate of decline in exports.
Anfavea expects production this year to rise 7.3% to 3.16 million units and sales to rise 9.4% to 3.05 million units, which would mark an acceleration from the 2.3% and 8.6% increases, respectively, registered in 2019.
Exports, which slumped nearly 32% last year due to general weakness in global demand and the economic crisis in neighboring Argentina, in particular, are expected to decline by 11% this year, Anfavea said.
Official trade data last week showed that exports of manufactured goods to Argentina last year fell by $5.2 billion, with autos accounting for a large chunk of that, and that the Netherlands overtook Argentina as the third largest overseas market for Brazilian goods.
Anfavea released its 2020 projections on Tuesday alongside the latest snapshot of the industry for December and figures for 2019 as a whole.
Automakers in Brazil produced 170,500 new cars and trucks in December, down 25% from the month before, while sales totaled 262,600 vehicles, up 8.4% on the month, Anfavea said.
For calendar year 2019, auto output rose 2.3% to 2.94 million units and sales rose 8.6% to 2.79 million units. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi and Gabriela Mello Writing by Jamie McGeever Editing by Louise Heavens and Jonathan Oatis)