The EU sent a warning shot across the bow of protectionist France. Brussels refused France’s request to monitor car imports from South Korea. According to the Wall Street Journal, import surveillance could have been Europe’s first step toward blocking or reversing tariff cuts instated by a free trade deal between the EU and Korea.
The French government and Fiat lobbied hard for a reversal of the free trade agreement with Korea, and against an FTA with Japan. The European Commission expressed its sympathy with the plight of European automakers, but warned against a myopic view of the matter. “In general, trade figures more than one year after the entry into force of the agreement are rather encouraging and indicate that the EU mostly benefited from this FTA so far,” EU spokesman John Clancy told Bloomberg.
The decision is also a warning to UAW supporters who lobby hard against free trade agreements and for closed borders. Be careful what you wish for. Oddly enough, import restrictions on cars coming from Korea to Europe would hurt GM. Most of Hyundai cars sold in Europe are made within the EU. Kia and GM are responsible for most of the imports from Korea. GM’s Chevrolets sold in the EU are nearly all made in Korea.
Politicians should be kept away from the car business.