By on August 5, 2012

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.

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22 Comments on “France Wants EU To Probe Increased South Korean Auto Imports...”

  • avatar

    Yeah, yeah – let’s blame it on the unions. [rolls eyes]

    The OECD report that put both Korea and Japan dead last out of 28 surveyed developed nations for market penetration of ‘foreign’ vehicles and vehicle parts should have raised a few eyebrows. Whether there is ‘dumping’ going on is only part of the problem. In an organized, exploitive way, Japan Inc and Korea Inc have analyzed our markets and then industry by industry attacked those of its choosing. One of MITI’s purposed in Japan was to do just that. Do you really think the entire American television and electronics industry died off, within 20 years, because they were all incompetent fools?
    In Canada, our huge surpluses in trade with the U.S. are rapidly being overshadowed by our massive deficits with Asia. Sales of Korean made vehicles in Canada are overtaking Honda and Toyota, yet not a single factory or facility exists here.
    Canada has joined the ranks as one of the most indebted nations now, thanks to 4 years of negative current account status. Analysis of those financials shows quite clearly that one of the biggest culprits for Canada is the huge imbalance in any of the ‘hard goods’ categories that are produced in Korea, then exported to Canada – especially for automobiles and automotive products. That deficit has tripled since 2007.
    I get that in the past the ‘rich’ Western nations have felt an obligation, a duty even, to lend a hand up to poorer, developing nations, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking any of these guys will be there to lend us a hand when they buy up the island of Manhattan and lease back the White House to the U.S. government….

    • 0 avatar

      Funny, you don’t have a problem with the huge trade surpleses with the US and think it is just fine.

      • 0 avatar

        ^ Funny how that works, huh?

        Interesting that the Germans aren’t complaining (they actually make cars that sell in Korea).

        Pretty humorous that the French are complaining when the EU has the HIGHER auto import tariff (10% vs. 8%) – so I doubt Hyundai is “dumping” when cars imported from Korea have 10% added to the pricetag at the very start.

        Besides, most of the cars Hyundai/Kia sells in Europe are made in the Czech Republica and Slovakia (as well as Turkey).

        As for Canada, Hyundai already tried the whole manufacturing plant in Canada and it didn’t work out due to low sales, etc. (btw, Canada has an auto import tariff around 6.8%).

        Hyundai is likely to build another plant in NA sometime in the future due to the lack of capacity, but there is about a zero chance that it will be in Canada for various reasons.

        1st, the cost of operating a plant in Canada is too high and Hyundai would be better served opening another plant close to its Alabama operations so that it can better utilize its supplier network.

        And if not the US, then Mexico – since that will enable Hyundai to sell to the EU and markets in South America w/o having to deal w/ import tariffs (just as VW had decided w/ regard to its new NA Audi plant).

        Either way, some Hyundai models will be shipped into Canada from the US or Mexico in the future.

        Also interesting that Carbiz singles out Hyundai when the German automakers sell a good amount of cars in Canada (and w/ the higher pricetag for luxury autos, the deficit amount is probably similar, if not greater), as does Mazda – which doesn’t have a plant in Canada either.

      • 0 avatar

        I never remarked about our trade surpluses with the U.S., I merely stated it. However, the reasons are the same: virtually every company in Canada is American, or American controlled. In 2011, $337B worth of goods/service flowed into Canada from the U.S., while 344B flowed into the U.S. from Canada. Basically, we managed to sell you $8B more trees and oil than you did us in profit taking from all your Canadian branch offices and the Japanese/Korean cars imported from the U.S.
        For a ‘small’ country like Canada our trade relationship is very important. Considering the U.S. current account deficit could very likely hit a trillion dollars, $8B is pocket change.
        If American companies simply stopped buying up all our successful companies, there would be no surplus. It’s that easy.
        Our Prime Minister is hell-bent on a free trade deal with the Pacific Rim. B.C and Alberta are pushing for it. They hate Americans anyway. Since Canada is already in the hole with China, Japan and Korea for more than our surplus with the U.S., clearly free trade with Asia is a non-starter.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t worry.
      Toyota is planning to break into FTA tarrif free Korean market with North america built cars.
      Soon they will lose capital for ‘dumping’.

  • avatar


    You miss the point. Why are Japanese & Korean products selling here and elsewhere? Because the buyer wants them. Why does the buyer want them? Because they are perceived as better. Why are they perceived as a better?

    Go from there instead of trying to fight fire with fire.

    • 0 avatar

      The apologists have their excuses already engraved in stone: they’ve been repeating the myths for so many years that they’ve actually begun to believe them.
      So Ethel & Fred buy a Camry because CR says it’s a great car. Does that prove it’s a great car? Or does it prove that to the writers at CR, the Camry is a better car?
      Or does the fact that Mercury Marine (Brunswick) and many utility companies use GM engines to power their vehicles and equipment mean that GM builds a better product? Even at the height of bankruptcy, the Silverado/Sierra handily outsold the Turdra. Do the contractors/trades people know something CR doesn’t?
      Japan Inc has spent a lot of money convincing Americans that the Camry is more American than the Malibu. And, for the most part, they’ve succeeded. (How many sports stadiums can you afford to buy in the U.S.?)
      I fought the good fight for 11 years. I would even take prospects to our Toyota stores and show them the lines in the service bay, or cross-compare parts prices, or call 2 insurance companies and price out the insurance on a Civic vs. Cobalt.
      Logic and reason works on certain types of people, but most react viscerally and with purpose of vengeance. If you grew up in your mother’s ’81 Citation, which we all universally agree was perhaps The Worst Vehicle Ever Built in the Known Universe, then convincing you that GM today is a different company is not going to work.
      I readily concede Honda and Toyota build good, even great cars: I just won’t buy one because I happen to care how my health care and pension is going to be funded in 20 years when no manufacturing exists in Canada.

  • avatar

    Ah, good old fashioned protectionism. Don’t make a better product, just punish your competitors for offering something your own people want more.

    • 0 avatar

      If it were that simple, you’d be write. How about you work for $5 an hour to compete with a factory in Thailand? What’s that – upgrade your education and get a job they can’t take away? Is there one you can guarantee can’t be off-shored?
      I guess it was okay when only those fat, lazy union types lost their jobs to Japan 25 years ago. Bet you’re not laughing now that the white collar jobs are disappearing to India, are you?
      IBM, for example, barely exists as a computer maker anymore: they offer network and data services for many Fortune 500 companies. Many American companies, from Whirlpool to Equifax have hardly any employees left on these shores: just shell corporations that have outsourced all their products.

  • avatar

    France is a victim of globalization! The Koreans are taking jobs from hardworking Frenchmen!

    Of course, when Publicis, LVMH, Sanofi et al bring global profits and high-value jobs back to France, that’s different.

  • avatar

    Anybody in France working a 40-hour week yet? (crickets chirping)

    Thought so.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s August, the country is on vacation. At least they’re not all out on strike.
      Yes, I know, stereotype, I’ve seen the work days/strike days numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t be laughing quite so hard: those lazy Frenchmen are in better shape than America: France’s current account deficit, as percentage of GDP is -2.68. The U.S. is sitting at -3.98.
      PSST: Japan is at +2.09 and Russia at +4.89.

    • 0 avatar

  • avatar

    The French should follow the Obama gameplan.

    1) Accuse the Korean’s of making cars subject to sudden unintended acceleration.

    2) Scare the public by telling them to “Stop Driving Your Hyundai”.

    3) Force the Korean’s to recall every vehicle ever sold in France in order to install a piece of tinfoil in the gas pedal.

    4) Have the top French scientists look for a gremlin in the Korean’s engine control software,

    5) Quietly let the issue die off before the public realizes the whole SUA issue is being fabricated by the government on behalf of the unions.

    • 0 avatar

      Your tinfoil hat is showing. Again. As a life long Democrat I can guarantee you that my party is not, and has never been, that organized. Will Rogers’s quote about not be a member of an organized political party, he was a Democrat, is alive and well.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess those incidences of UA w/ Toyotas in Japan never happened.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess Hyundai has never been implicated in unintended acceleration cases.

        Oh, wait a minute, I guess that it has:


        On Monday (May 14, 2012), the (South Korean) Ministry of Land, Transport & Maritime Affairs said it launched an investigation into a sudden acceleration claim that led to the accident in Daegu on May 6. Video evidence appears to show that the couple’s Hyundai Sonata suddenly accelerated and, after 13 seconds of maneuvering by the driver to avoid other cars, wound up rear-ending a car at a stoplight at a speed of 130 km/h, or about 80 miles per hour. That set off a chain reaction accident that involved several other vehicles and injured 17 people.

        Glass houses, stones and all that.

      • 0 avatar

        Every time I am stuck in traffic behind an old buzzard in a Camry or Yaris, it doesn’t surprise me that they can’t figure out where the gas pedal is in relation to the brake.
        If they’d just turn down Barry Manilow, they could think!

    • 0 avatar

      … and if the NHTSA had done nothing and people had died, guess what: the victim’s lawyers would have made the ‘GM bailout’ look like a church fundraiser.
      The NHTSA has no choice but to open an investigation. They open bogus investigations all the time – they have to respond. The only difference is that Toyota had become #1, and we all know what that means in our culture: tear down and destroy. That would be the media’s fault for running with a half-baked story.

      OH, AND THE FACT THAT TOYOTA DRAGGED THEIR FEET AND TRIED TO IGNORE THE STORY. The media smells blood when a company or government agency does that.

  • avatar

    I’m sure this has nothing to do with French consumers choosing to buy a car from a company that might still exist when it’s paid off.

  • avatar

    The best part of this is that a tariff against imports from South Korea would also hurt Renault. Ironically, Renault’s compact SUV is built by Samsung in Korea, whereas the offerings from Hyundai and Kia are built in Slovakia (which happens to be a EU country).

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