06/07/2012, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA - EUROPEAN UNION
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S Korean tiger scares Marchionne into asking for EU tariffs

Fiat managing director highlights import-export imbalance in cars between EU and South Korea. He calls for review of free trade agreement signed last year. The Old Continent rediscovers unfair taxes against foreign competition.

Brussels (AsiaNews) - Europe is drawing up plans to protect its auto industry against Asia's commercial offensive and huge exports. This time, South Korea, not China, is the target.

According to Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat boss who heads the European automotive industry association ACEA, Seoul has failed to respect the free trade agreement it signed with Brussels last year.

"According to the free trade deal with (South) Korea, there are issues that must verified after implementation," Marchionne explained. "I encourage the EU commissioner" for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani "and other commissioners to do it."

"We must determine whether the free trade deal with South Korea is providing all the benefits expected at the time of its signing," he added. "This is a good thing to do after implementation and a good warning for Japan."

Before meeting EU leaders, Marchionne said, "they would discuss possible tariffs" on imports.

"The only thing I ask is to see the figures about car imports from Korea and car exports from Europe to Korea. If you look at the nine months starting in July (2011) until the end of the first quarter (2012), you'll be surprised by the numbers."

"I think it is almost a miracle," he concluded, "since the European market has been down for the past five years, whilst their (South Korean) imports have increased disproportionately compared to our exports in Korea."

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