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Ford Motor Co. sales in China slid by 25 percent in the first six months of the year, just as a trade war breaks out between the U.S. and that country.

China said Friday it would retaliate against U.S. tariffs with 25 percent duties of its own on certain products — including automobiles from the United States. In response to that declaration, Ford said Friday it will not raise the prices of its vehicles exported to China for now, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Dearborn automaker said exports to China totaled 7,848 for the first half of the year.

An aging vehicle lineup was the primary culprit that hurt Ford's China sales for the first half of 2018, even as some of its competition flourished.

While Lincoln brand sales have increased 4 percent for Ford in China this year, the automaker has struggled to sell aging the products that it imports there, as well as those it sells with its joint ventures. Peter Fleet, president of Ford's Asia Pacific wing and CEO of Ford China, said the company knew 2018 would be a tough sales year due to its product cycle.

"China is a new product-driven sales market," spokeswoman Lori Arpin said in an email. "As part of our In China, For China strategy, Ford will introduce a wave of exciting new products later this year including the all-new Focus and new Escort. As our volume vehicles, the all-new Focus and new Escort will hit the showroom in a few months."

Arpin said Ford is focused on a long-term strategy, and plans to expand its product portfolio there as part of plan that takes the company through 2025. She said Ford is focused on its plan as the trade war between the U.S. and China erupts. 

Ford reported it sold 62,057 vehicles in China in June, a 38 percent decline compared to the same month a year ago. It's sold 400,443 vehicles there this year.

Meantime, Ford's crosstown rival General Motors Co. reported China sales grew 4.4 percent in the first half of the year, having sold 1.8 million vehicles. The Detroit automaker plans to add 10 new models there in the second half of the year.

GM sold nearly double the number of vehicles in the second quarter in China than Ford has sold there all year.

Buick moved 230,454 units in China in the second quarter; Lincoln has sold 24,314 vehicles there in the first half of the year.

Ford plans to launch four redesigned vehicles in China later this year.

"Looking forward to the second half of the year, we will continue to bring our strategy to life by further strengthening our relationships with our partners and dealers, providing our customers with more choices and nurturing our local team for a bigger, better and brighter future for Ford in China," said Fleet in a statement.

ithibodeau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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