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March 15, 2013

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Second-hand car plate prices restricted

A SECOND-HAND Shanghai car plate will not be allowed to trade at a price higher than the latest average price for new car plates, city officials announced yesterday.

It's the latest move by the city government to tame spiraling plate prices and curb speculative trading.

"The prices of second-hand plates and new plates ... push each other higher as bidders tend to refer to the price of second-hand plates as the benchmark for bidding on a new car plate," Shanghai Information Office said in a statement on Weibo.

The new measure takes effect on March 23, when the city will hold the auction for the month. A total of 9,000 car plates will be available at the auction, the same as in February, according to the statement.

But some are skeptical that the measures will be effective.

"The move will further push up the plate price because it doesn't tackle the root issue of high demand," a commenter on Weibo said. Another called the measure "toothless because people can use double contracts to circumvent the price limit."

Shanghai car dealer Eddie Zhang expected the car plate price to hit 100,000 yuan (US$16,129) despite the move.

The average price for a Shanghai car plate shot up to 83,571 yuan in February, for the first time surpassing 80,000 yuan.

In September, the government extended the minimum holding period of car plates before resale from one to three years in a bid to curb speculation. But since then, the average auction price has increased more than 43 percent.

The city's revenue for plate auctions hit 7.12 billion yuan in 2012, an increase of 51.8 percent from 2011, of which 3.99 billion yuan was spent, mostly on public transport.


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