France is asking the EU to look into an uptick in South Korean car imports, which could possibly result in tarrifs being slapped on the vehicles, despite an EU-South Korean free trade agreement.
The AFP reports that the request, made by Arnaud Montebourg, France’s Minister for Industrial Recovery
“…is being made under the terms of an EU-South Korea free trade agreement which allows for safeguard measures to be implemented in response to a sudden spike in imports in certain “sensitive” sectors. Montebourg said France was justified in asking for the move after registering a 50 percent increase in South Korean car imports in January and February of this year. The monitoring process will require importers to seek prior authorisation from the Commission before bringing any cars into France, he added.”
The rhetoric regarding the “dumping” of South Korean cars has been heating up slowly; sales of domestic brands like Renault, Peugeot and Citroen have been in the dumps, while “low-cost” brands like Dacia, as well as Hyundai and Kia, have been doing well, with sales in Europe increasing while everyone else is sliding backwards. In a poor economy, the low-end and the high-end retain their position, but the middle is always hollowed out. The backlash against Korean cars isn’t exclusive to France either – the country seems to be a favorite scapegoat whenever uncompetitive vehicles or labor unions are suffering.