• Nov 1, 2010
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 imported car 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.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req'd]


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  • 28 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wouldn't wish the EPA on our worst enemy, much less an ally
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe it is time for a global standard to be followed worldwide.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe you should include Daewoo sales in the market share held by American brands since Daewoo is owned by GM.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It doesn't work that way. GM-DAT - formed from the remnants of Daewoo after it was liquidated - is a South Korean company, not an American one. It's owned by an American parent, but company domiciliary is not based on the domicile of the parent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        True. I guess it is technically a Korean company even if it's parent company is Foreign.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wouldn't it be nice if the entire world could just follow the same standards?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Question.

      Why would Korea adopt US standards for its domestic market? Korean/Japanese/European manufacturers all make cars to US market specification. US makers do the same for the EU sales, they've even manufactured their cars in Europe (Chrysler in Austria).

      Why can't we have an Imapala made to comply with North Korea regulations?

      Why would Koreans want to have an Impala is completely different question...

        • 4 Years Ago
        why is north korea brought up when this article is about south korea?
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Korea should simply follow China's lead. They're much closer and more valuable from an economic standpoint."

        In your dreams.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So im guessing US standard is lower than Skorean standard since if US standard exceeded SK's, then it would be a selling point. So in much more dense and crowded Skorea, US gov is asking for Skorean citizens to breath dirtier air which their cars produce, so they can sell more cars...

      I personally think there should be a global standard for emissions, now that will help US cars to sell abroad... instead of asking laws to be changed so that its cars will be competitive... Only if US gov would look at long term goals and try to lead the rest of the world with the standards...

      Now, even if SK gov were to lower their emission standards to subpar US level, and more US cars can come into SK market, does US gov think SKoreans would buy their cars?? after US forced SK gov to lower their standards jeopardizing their health??

      come on, this is nonsense. IF US wants to sell more cars in SKorea, they should be worrying about other import cars such as german and japanese cars and make them more competitive.

      SKorean car buyer actually has very similar taste in cars as US buyers in that they want big and soft riding cars. This is why US cars did pretty damn well in Skorea back in the 90s. But as Skorean's income rose, they started driving more nicely appointed german cars and now japanese.

      Ford prolly has the best chance in Korea, but US gov's request to lower the emission standards wont help one bit, in fact it may be counter productive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i don't think it would matter. Seoul is surrounded by mountains that traps air. not as bad as mexico or greece though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Standards are different. Europe, South Korea, Japan and Many others for exaple crash at lower speeds, but with only 50% of the front of the car. This is made to resseble typical accdents in cities. The US crash at higher speeds, but over the full with of the car. European crash tests do not mandate rollovers, whereas US crashs AFAIK do not cover accidents with pedestrians. Basically any European, Japanese and South Korean manufacturer builds one version of a car for the US and another version for the rest of the world.

        In "real world safety" there should not be much difference, as US spec cars make in better in some scenarios, EURO/Japan/Korea cars in other scenarios. So I could understand if they aked for a two-way agreement that worked in both directions.
        • 4 Years Ago
        There are essentially two main types of safety standards - the European UNECE standard, used all over the world except for North America, and the North American FMVSS and CMVSS standards. Canadian CMVSS is almost identical to FMVSS with the exception of some bumper legislation differences. The UNECE legislation is broken down and applied according to market - for example, rear fogs are mandatory in Europe, but not in Australasia.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Obviously American emissions standards are weaker then South Korea's. The whole point is to start selling big SUVs to S. Korea.

        If our emissions standard was higher it would mean that American cars already would exceed South Korea's emission standards. In which case there is no point in forcing another country to adopt our laws.

        This free trade agreement going to still have a flood of American-made cars enter Korea, most of them will be American-made Hyundai's and Kias. Which is why they are expanding massively in the US. But the UAW, which is against this agreement, doesn't care if American-made Hyundai's are sold to S. Korea, they only care of the brands they own shares in.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bloke,

        You're right about bumpers, but the legislation changed about 2 years ago. The difference was the Canadian bumper was required to withstand higher speed impact than the US bumper (8 km/h versus 5 - if I'm not mistaken, it's also 5 in Europe). On some cars, the difference is visible (I think old Mazda 3's rear bumper is a good example).

        The legislation was changed in Canada following some massive campaign by organizations such as Cars Without Borders.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @EpsilonNot

        you're right, standards are, mostly, different but equal taking into consideration factors such as prevalence of different types of accidents, etc.

        I can see different standards for impact protection in a country full of scooters and small cars and in a country where the best selling vehicle is a truck. Pedestrian protection is a similar area.

        But standards are not just CO2 and crashes.

        North American cars have symmetrical beams (I think Japanese as well), European cars dip left or right (dep. on rule of the road). Rear fog ligh is mandatory in Europe, etc. There are restriction on materials used, corrosion, engine settings (different petrol/gas/benzin and mineral/synth oil).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Isn't it interesting that the US uses a unique set of safety and emissions standards, but it's the Koreans that have the "non-tariff barrier to trade"? Seems to me, that we're the one with the barrier.

      Bob Lutz was fairly outspoken on this issue when he was at GM. The US needs to abandon its go it alone approach to auto standards and embrace EU standards. Truth be told, we're never going to sell a bunch of Silverados, Expeditions and Rams in Europe or Asia, but it's nonsensical to build Fiestas, Cruzes and Wranglers to slightly different standards to meet arbitrary rules that are, in fact, non-trade barriers.

      If we were able to match standards, then our more productive workers and factories (they are, by the way, check the numbers) make more sense as part of the global labor pool. Additionally, this might make the US market practical again for wider range of makes and models from overseas.

      On a different note, will this accord make Korean trucks/vans exempt from the Chicken Tax?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why not ask China? Oh wait, that's right. We're still in bed with them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great, so safety is being made a political game?

      I wish the whole world would just get together and agree on safety and emissions standards in a tiered system (a tier for first world, and a tier for emerging economies...) so we can cut down the bureaucratic mess that is building a car for more than local consumption.

      I'd be totally fine if we just adopt the EU standards (with some modifications perhaps).

      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they tell us to pound sand.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The share % quoted can't be right--- The Europeans don't have 62% of the market... Perhaps that's the % of Imported vehicles?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, I asked the question somewhat rhetorically... The original AB article reported on the Automotive News without accurately reporting the facts.

        As to whether or not there are any imports in South Korea, I have to disagree that there are next to none, in that when I go to Seoul, especially on weekend evenings, I'm struck by how many foreign luxury cars there are. I'm there probably 4 or 5 times a year and I see more Bentleys there than I do in my neck of Americana. Given it's position as a capital city in a country that has seen some incredible economic growth, it's going to have a population that likes to show off it's new-found wealth with foreign luxury cars... Maybe this is why the Equus and Genesis exist, to try to stem the new wealthy from buying something other than a Hyundai?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think these days, the whole reason for US safety standards that are separate from the standard the rest of the world uses has got nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with getting around trade agreements. They are just different standards, not better (and in some cases, like lighting requirements, the US standard is decades behind the UN ECE standard, which is why American makes can still get away with things like red turn-light signals on the back, when the rest of the world requires amber signals.)

      Why should South Korea adopt a standard used only by one country when the rest of the world uses something else? Why would they adopt a standard that would make it harder for them to trade with up-and-coming countries like China and India, who don't use the US standard?

      I agree with what others have commented here. The US should drop its own 'standard' and adopt the global one.
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