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U.S. reportedly asks South Korea to adopt American emissions, safety standards

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U.S. reportedly asks South Korea to adopt American emissions, safety standards

by Jonathon Ramsey (RSS feed) on Nov 1st 2010 at 8:01AM

The powers-that-be in the States are working on getting the go-ahead for a free trade agreement, like NAFTA, but this time with South Korea. The agreement itself was signed and sealed in 2007, but it hasn't actually gone into effect yet because Congress won't approve it, and that's because of two hangups, one being emissions regulations that the U.S. maintains is a non-tariff barrier to selling cars in in South Korea.

One South Korean analyst said that "even if South Korea accepts American safety and emissions standards," the current 10.1 percent of market share held by American cars won't change much. That share has dropped year-on-year, and with the agreement in effect and a push to increase exports, the U.S. would like a proper shot at turning that around. European makes, on the other hand, have 62% market share. The two countries will confer next month on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Seoul in a final effort to harmonize and implement the trade agreement.



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White House working to reach Korea free trade deal ahead of summit

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington— The White House said it is working to try to finalize a deal with South Korea on a long-stalled Free Trade Agreement ahead of the G20 summit in Seoul on Nov. 11.

U.S. and Korean negotiators met in San Francisco last week to try to resolve disputes over U.S. exports of beef and autos, and are continuing to meet over the next 10 days.

The U.S. has asked Korea to agree to allow U.S. automobiles to enter the Korean market if they passed U.S. emissions and safety standards, according to published reports.

The White House didn't comment on any offers it has proposed.

Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC oppose the FTA in its current form. They argue that the Korea Free Trade Agreement — signed by President George W. Bush in 2007 but never submitted to Congress for approval — doesn't do enough to clear barriers to U.S. vehicles. They contend "non-tariff" barriers could still keep out U.S. vehicles.

Mike Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the government is in "dialogue" over a number of auto issues.

"We're going to make maximum effort to try to resolve the outstanding issues," Froman told reporters at the White House today. "We're going to put every effort into achieving an acceptable agreement, a satisfactory agreement by the time the president comes to Seoul."

Asked if the White House had a target for U.S. auto sales in Korea, Froman declined to answer.

But he said the U.S. wants a deal that "expands access for competitive U.S. products."

Last month, 21 U.S. House members sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Korean President Lee Myung-bak urging them to "make meaningful changes" that will foster "balanced and fair economic exchange between two countries."

The signers included Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, and Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint.

The Korean government is eager for the agreement. Its ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-Soo, has been crisscrossing the country lobbying in favor of the agreement.

Last week, he invited reporters covering trade issues to a dinner at his official residence in Washington to again urge approval of the agreement. He said he was "cautiously optimistic" a deal could be reached.

At an event in Detroit in August, the ambassador said U.S. auto imports "can and should be increased a lot more."

He told the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce that the agreement "will actually make things better, not worse, for the auto industry and its workers."

He argued the deal "will open fully an increasingly affluent consumer market to U.S. automakers by erasing the 8 percent tariff they pay on all their exports to Korea while the U.S. will eliminate its tariff of only 2.5 percent."

Last year, about 7,600 U.S.-built vehicles were purchased in Korea, versus more than 411,000 exported to the U.S.

Through August, the U.S. auto sector trade deficit with Korea was $6.8 billion — up from $4.8 billion over the same period in 2009.

But U.S. auto sector exports to Korea increased to $464 million — more than double the $223 million in the same period in 2009.

The Korea Embassy also notes that General Motors Co. owns Korea's fourth largest automaker, GM-Daewoo. And they note that Japanese and European automakers now export about 80,000 vehicles to Korea annually.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20101101/AUTO01/11010390/1148/auto01/White-House-working-to-reach-Korea-free-trade-deal-ahead-of-summit#ixzz147xtDpDH

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