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EU-Korea FTA more beneficial for European automakers

[THE INVESTOR] European carmakers benefited more from the EU-Korea free trade agreement than their Korean counterparts, according to industry data on July 5.

Data from the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association showed that domestic car manufacturers exported 383,698 units of cars to EU countries in 2015, reflecting a 28.6 percent increase from the 298,263 units in 2010.

The EU-Korea FTA went into effect in 2011.

In 2010, a total of 59,242 European cars were sold in Korea according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. In 2015, the figure increased by 233.2 percent to 197,396 units.

The proportion of European cars also rose. 

BMW M2 Coupe
BMW M2 Coupe

European cars made up 65.4 percent of all imported cars in 2010, while Japan had a share of 26.4 percent, followed by the US with 8.2 percent. In 2015, however, European cars took up 80.9 percent, while Japanese and American cars fell to 11.9 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.

The European Commission -- the executive body of the EU -- arrived at a similar conclusion about the EU FTA in its yearly report released on June 30.

The commission compared the import figures from the period before the FTA -- July 2010 to June 2011 -- to the fourth year of the agreement -- July 2014 to June 2015.

EU countries outbound shipment increased by 206 percent, from 20 billion euros ($US22.3 billion) to 61 billion euros.

In contrast, Korea’s exports to EU countries increased only by 53 percent during the same period, from 26 billion euros to 40 billion euros.

However, Korea exported more automotive parts, such as tires and engines, to the EU nations than they imported. These exports increased 36 percent to 22 billion euros, while EU’s export to Korea rose by a smaller margin of 18 percent to 12 billion euros in the same period.

The Institute for International Trade also said in a recent report that exports from Korea to the EU grew below 1 percent in the first four years after the FTA went into effect.

It was only from the July 2015 to May 2016 period that the figure reached 17.3 percent.

In contrast, EU exports to Korea rose an average 33.6 percent for five years ago.

By Ahn Sung-mi (