In 2011, sales of Korean cars in the European Union grew 24% although the overall market contracted. On the other hand, French carmakers saw their sales falling with PSA Peugeot Citroen announcing plans to slash 8,000 jobs. As a result, France has officially sent a request to the EU Commission to monitor South Korean car imports, which could possibly result in tarrifs being slapped on the vehicles despite an EU-South Korean free trade agreement that was signed only a year ago.
EU Trade Spokesman, John Clancy, said in a statement that the EU has received a note from the French authorities requesting surveillance measures for South Korean car imports. He added that the commission is reviewing the request carefully.
If France manages to get its way, local carmakers will be able to obtain detailed information including the type and number of products scheduled for export to Europe before the cars even arrive. According to Reuters, although exports to EU grew by 40% since the free trade deal was signed on 1 July 2011, the number is far below the 640,000 units imported in 2007. This is because companies such as Kia and Hyundai have increased their production capacity in countries such as Turkey and Czech Republic.
The backlash against Korean cars isn’t exclusive to France either. The Asian country seems to be a favorite scapegoat whenever uncompetitive vehicles or labor unions are suffering. My advice to the French car makers is – If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
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