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DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) - General Motors on Wednesday posted a five percent drop in global sales in the second quarter as a sharp drop in its home market offset strong gains overseas.

The sales decline also left GM trailing Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. in the race for global automotive supremacy.

GM's sales slipped to 2.29 million vehicles in the April through June period after North American sales fell 20 percent to 963,929, while sales outside the region grew by 10 percent to 1,322,765.

GM said it was still "on track" to sell more than nine million vehicles this year as sales for the first six months reached 4.54 million vehicles, a three percent decline from the same period of 2007.

Toyota said last week it had sold 4.8 million units worldwide this year through June 30.

GM said its sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew 15 percent to 386,980 vehicles.

Sales in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East rose 18 percent to 346,085 vehicles, powered by Chevrolet, which accounted for nearly 90 percent of vehicle sales in the region.

European sales rose 2.5 percent to 589,700 vehicles. But Jonathan Browing, GM's vice president of global sales, service and marketing, said that most of the growth in Europe was concentrated in the former Soviet bloc in eastern Europe.

"Our sales performance around the world shows that we are moving quickly to respond to new market opportunities around the globe and are meeting customer needs with fuel-efficient products that offer compelling design and great value," Browning said in a statement.

"Our global sales performance during the second quarter was fueled by Chevrolet globally and Wuling and GM Daewoo regionally."

Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of market and sales analysis, said GM sales in the key emerging markets increased by double digits: 34 percent in Russia, 29 percent in Brazil and 13 percent in China.

Overall, GM expects auto sales globally to increase by 2.5 percent or 1.7 million units but most of the growth will be concentrated in the emerging market, while sales in the US, Japan and western Europe, which account for half of all new vehicles sales globally, will sink by about 7.0 percent.

Chevrolet sales in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 27 percent in the second-quarter, stoked by a 33 percent increase in China and a nine percent increase in India.

The joint-venture Wuling brand saw sales rise 35 percent in China compared with the second quarter of 2008, GM said.

Chevrolet sales grew 19 percent in Europe while sales of several GM brands grew significantly in Russia.

Russian Opel sales rose 96 percent in the first half of the year, Saab climbed 81 percent, Cadillac saw a 51 percent increase, Chevrolet was up 49 percent and Hummer was up 21 percent compared with the first half of 2007.

Cadillac sales outside the United States grew 14 percent in the second quarter, GM said.

Saab sales, meanwhile, fell 22 percent globally while Buick was down 17.6 percent in the second quarter.

Browning, however, said that GM had no plans at this point to pull either brand off the global stage. "Saab has a global presence, albeit a small one in some markets, and Buick is sold only in the US and China," he said.;_ylt=ArQhbZQEg4zRm8sI3cSTnDwGw_IE
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