S. Korean flagHan Duk-soo, the South Korean ambassador to the United States, recently urged the Detroit Chamber of Commerce to embrace increasing automotive imports from his country. Talk about a tough sell. However, the move would be part of a deal that would open South Korea to cars built in America – a market that has been notoriously protected by tariffs and other barriers. Duk-soo said that eliminating America's 2.5 percent tariff on cars built in South Korea would allow his country to do away with its eight percent automotive import tax at the same time.

Without a doubt, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler wouldn't mind diving deeper into a new consumer pool, but according to Representative Sander Levin (D), the U.S.-South Korean Free Trade Agreement needs significant revision before it can provide "meaningful market access" between the two countries. Lawmakers and manufacturers currently say that the agreement isn't adequate enough protection for U.S. exports to keep them from running into additional regulations that may hinder their sale in South Korea.

Meanwhile, Duk-soo says that perception is a misunderstanding, and that while his country's auto market was protected in the past, it's now open to imports. The ambassador even pointed to increasing U.S. auto sales in Korea even despite the hurdles. According to The Detroit News, April U.S. auto sales in the country were four times what they were in 2009, driven largely by the popular Ford Taurus.

[Source: The Detroit News]