April 9, 2018 / 4:10 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico auto exports rise 7.5 pct in March, output falls-trade group

(Adds details on exports, output, background)

MEXICO CITY, April 9 (Reuters) - Mexican auto exports rose 7.5 percent in March from the same month last year, while production fell 10.9 percent, auto industry group AMIA said on Monday.

Mexico exported 327,955 autos in March, up from 304,950 in the same month last year, AMIA said. Production fell to 331,109 units from 371,447 produced in March 2017.

AMIA’s director general, Fausto Cuevas, attributed the fall in production to the Easter national holiday in Mexico.

Mexico is in the midst of fraught talks with the United States and Canada to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Discussions over so-called rules of origin in the auto sector are among the thorniest facing negotiators.

Earlier Monday, Mexico’s economy minister said he saw an 80 percent chance of reaching a new NAFTA deal by the first week of May, but added that conditions were not right for a deal this week.

AMIA said domestic car sales totaled 118,600 units in March, down 13.4 percent from the same month last year.

Guillermo Rosales, deputy director of the Mexican association of automobile distributors, attributed the fall to the impact of higher inflation and interest rates on consumers.

Just under 70 percent of exports went to the United States, with 6.9 percent headed to Canada, and 12 percent bound for Latin America, AMIA said. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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