South Korea lifts ban on imports

South Korea had effectively banned imports of Japanese motor vehicles because of its trade deficit with Japan and to protect its domestic industry-however, the ban was lifted in July 1999. Toyota made test sales of the Avalon manufactured in the United States in 1996 and the Camry, also manufactured in the United States, in 1999, but sales were limited to the 500 vehicle range because of the price difference with South Korean automobiles and the effects of the Asian currency crisis.

In 2000, TMC established Toyota Motor Korea Co., Ltd. (TMKR) in Seoul as a general importer and sales agent, and TMKR began selling Lexus brand vehicles in 2001. Lexus brand vehicles were the best selling imported vehicles in South Korea for two consecutive years starting in 2005 and exceeded the 7,000 vehicle level in 2007. In 2008, TMKR announced a plan to import Toyota brand vehicles, and sales of four series including the Prius and Camry began in October 2009.

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