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Chinese-made tires account for 1 in 3 imports in Korea

Nearly one in every three vehicle tires shipped to South Korea last year was produced in China, market data showed Tuesday.

The country imported about US$599 million worth of tires in 2016, according to the Korea Tire Manufacturers Association. Of the total, $175 million worth, or 33.6 percent, was from China, up 2.1 percent from the previous year.

German tires accounted for 9.5 percent of the total, followed by Japanese products with a 9-percent market share.

Notably, China accounted for 79.5 percent of all imported commercial vehicle tires last year, according to the data. But China's share of imported passenger car tires totaled merely 15 percent.

Market observers note Chinese tires for passenger cars will continue to expand market share here, especially following a possible takeover of South Korea's No. 2 tire maker Kumho Tire Co. by China's Doublestar Tire Industrial Co.

The Chinese manufacturer has been named the sole preferred bidder to purchase a 42.1-percent stake in Kumho Tire, which has been under a creditor-led restructuring program since 2009.

However, Park Sam-koo, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, the parent company of the South Korean tire maker, has said he planned to exercise his right to buy back the firm.

Yonhap News