European auto makers have begun a lobbying effort aimed at revising a free-trade agreement that has led to a substantial increase in imports of Korean-made vehicles.
A new trade agreement between the European Union and South Korea went into effect in July, eliminating an up to 10% tariff in two steps. Vehicle imports from Korea rose 67% to 341,633 in the nine months through March and are on track to reach about 200,000 cars in the 12 months since the accord went into effect, according to the South Korea Customs Office.
That increase would be roughly equivalent to the output of one assembly plant for one year. Meanwhile, exports of European-made cars to Korea rose just 7% to 57,569 in that period.
South Korea’s trade ministry on Thursday declined immediate comment on the auto makers’ concerns. An official at the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation’s auto makers, said the increased imports were due to the high quality, improved brand awareness and price advantage of Korean autos.