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Toyota's recent troubles weren't merely issues for its customers, dealers, lawyers and bottom line – the repercussions also went all the way up through diplomatic channels. A series of cables posted by Wikileaks reveals that then-Transportation Minister Seiji Maehara asked that Toyota's situation not cause "obstacles to trade."

Han 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

Talk to most analysts in the auto world, and they'll say that the recent rise of South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia have been an absolute blessing to the industry as a whole. Consumers now have an array of quality, inexpensive products, extra jobs have landed in rural areas of the deep south thanks to American-based manufacturing facilities and the competition from low-priced models have forced domestic manufacturers to up their game.

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