Approximately 30% of passenger cars sold in South Korea are produced by foreign-owned auto makers or imported, the country’s foreign trade minister says in a recent speech to the American Chamber of Commerce.
“I would like to make a point the allegation that the Korean auto market is inaccessible to foreign companies simply is not true,” Kim Jong-hoon says in his presentation, which centers on the pending U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement.
“The U.S. could miss a golden opportunity to secure a firm position in Korean markets ahead of the European Union, Canada and China if the U.S. Congress fails to approve the bilateral free-trade agreement,” he says.
Before becoming minister of foreign trade, Kim was an ambassador for South Korea and chief negotiator on the FTA, signed by both countries in June.
The South Korean government handed over the agreement to the Korean legislature for approval in September, but the U.S. government still has not submitted it to Congress, Kim says.
The Korean legislature is expected to ratify the agreement before February.
U.S. auto makers have complained that despite two agreements signed in the 1990s to open the Korean market, the American companies only sold about 4,000 cars in the country last year, while South Korea shipped 800,000 to the U.S.