Ford wants a ‘rapid’ jump in U.S. auto sales from Korea trade deal-exec

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

Ford Motor Co. is requesting President Barack Obama's administration to make changes to a free trade pact with South Korea that is expected to lead to a "rapid" jump in US auto sales in that country, according to Steve Biegun, Ford vice president for international governmental affairs.

Biegun said that Ford is asking for the complete elimination of Korean barriers to the market. He added that Ford seeks a rapid increase in imports that would be accomplished in an enforceable way.

Biegun is insisting though that Ford isn't demanding for a guaranteed share of South Korea's new-car market, which is estimated at about $30 billion annually.

In an interview with reporters after an event with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to launch its new Explorer sport-utility vehicle, Biegun remarked that there's no need for a quota but rather for an open market.

Ford has opposed the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement negotiated and signed three years ago by the administration of then-President George W. Bush.

It's notable that Congress has never approved this agreement. Chrysler has also opposed the agreement in its current form. Meanwhile, General Motors Co., which is the principal owner of GM Daewoo in South Korea, has been neutral on the pact.

As mentioned in the complaint of Ford and the United Auto Workers union, the agreement is believed to be a failure in tearing down several longtime "non-tariff" barriers that have restricted US auto exports to South Korea to around 6,000 to 8,000 per year.

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