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19 Mar, 2024 15:48

2,000% surge in luxury car sales to ex-Soviet republic ‘not about Russia’ – UK auto lobby

Azerbaijan is a flourishing market and is not re-exporting vehicles to the sanctioned country, a British motoring group has claimed
2,000% surge in luxury car sales to ex-Soviet republic ‘not about Russia’ – UK auto lobby

An unprecedented surge in car exports from the UK to Azerbaijan is not related to Russia or sanctions evasion, the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has claimed, as cited by Sky News.

The news outlet previously reported that vehicle sales to the South Caucasus nation saw huge growth last year, rising 2,000% compared to the five years prior to 2022. The UK banned imports of cars worth over £42,000 ($53,300) to Russia after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine, and has also prohibited sales of “dual use” items to the country.

According to analysis carried out by Sky News, a near-simultaneous rise in car exports from Azerbaijan to Russia has occurred over the same period of time.

A spokesperson for the SMMT explained the surge by insisting that Azerbaijan represents a “flourishing market in its own right,” and that there is no evidence that vehicles being sent to the country are destined for Russia.

“UK vehicle exports to Azerbaijan – as to many countries globally – have increased due to a number of factors, not least a flourishing economy, new model launches and pent-up demand,” the SMMT stated.

Azerbaijan imported another $51 million worth of cars from the UK in the first month of the current year, according to Sky analysis. The South Caucasus nation had not previously been in the top 75 export destinations for British-made cars, data showed. 

Azerbaijan is reportedly now ranked the 12th biggest foreign market by value for vehicles from the UK, outpacing countries such as Switzerland, Canada, and Spain. Meanwhile, there are no direct car exports to Russia, according to data from HM Revenue & Customs, as quoted by the news channel.

Similar increases in British exports have reportedly been seen in other former Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Georgia. The former saw deliveries of British-made cars increase 800% in 2023, Sky News stated.

“Wherever the UK automotive industry exports, it is committed to compliance with all trade and economic sanctions, and continues to work closely with government and the new Office For Sanctions to ensure the effective implementation of the regulations,” the SMMT spokesperson told the channel.

The lobby group said it had registered no signs of the law being compromised, adding that “it is right to monitor for any potential vulnerabilities in a fast-moving and evolving environment.”

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