The Detroit Free Press reports that Ford is dissatisfied with its access to the South Korean market, thanks to the 2007 U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiated by then-President George W. Bush and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. Ford argues that Congress – which never approved the agreement in the first place – isn’t doing enough to stop an arrangement that says for every 52 cars imported from South Korea, only one American-made vehicle can be exported to South Korea.
Ford wants a level playing field in free trade
Ford wants the sales barriers to be removed. According to South Korean embassy spokesman John Brinkley, import sales in Korea have grown at an average of 41 percent annually since 2000, but most of those imports are non-U.S. cars. While the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement nixed Korea’s 8 percent tariff on passenger cars (the U.S. agreed to drop its own 25 percent import tariff over 10 years on trucks), Ford wants free trade wherever it does business. The automaker has a website dedicated to the issue at www.ford.com/freetrade.
Obama plans renegotiation at upcoming G20 summit
Next Thursday, President Obama will meet with President Lee Myung-Bak and other world leaders in Seoul for the G20 summit. It is expected that Obama will address the Bush administration’s 2007 agreement directly.
Not all automakers are as adamant as Ford for change. General Motors has remained neutral, writes the Free Press, likely because of its stake in Korean automaker Daewoo, which it purchased in 2002.
Ford may not cede favor to Korea as much as claimed
Market share for Korean automakers such as Hyundai and Kia has risen over the past two years. October numbers indicate that the Hyundai Kia Group accounted for 6.4 percent of U.S. auto sales. Ford has gained little headway in Korea, which is not consistent with Ford’s recent U.S. Resurgence.
Hyundai spokesman Dan Bedore suggested to the Free Press that Ford may be obfuscating the facts. Bedore claimed the majority of Hyundais sold in American are built on American soil, while Ford imports the Fusion and Fiesta from Mexico and the Transit Connect van from Turkey.
“Ford imports more cars from Mexico and Turkey than Hyundai imports from Korea,” said Bedore.