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EU set to rule on France's complaint over Korean automakers
SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- The European Union (EU) is set to decide this week whether to accept France's claim that its domestic auto market has been hit by a surge in imports of South Korean vehicles, Seoul's trade ministry said Wednesday.

   In July, France made a request to the European Commission, the executive body of the EU, that South Korean autos be put on a prior surveillance list, which could trigger a safeguard measure against imports from South Korea in the worst-case scenario.

   According to the ministry, South Korean Trade Minister Bark Tae-ho met his EU counterpart Karel De Gucht in Brussels on Tuesday, and the EU officials said the EU Commission will announce whether to accept France's claim on Friday.

   Seoul has claimed that autos exported to France are manufactured in the EU region, not shipped from South Korea, and imports of European cars into Asia's fourth-largest economy also surged after the free trade deal came into effect, the official said.

   South Korea's leading automakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Co. have plants in Turkey and Czech Republic. South Korea and the EU implemented their free trade pact on July 1 last year.

   France's move came as its automakers are losing ground in the face of rising competition. The country's biggest carmaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen, in July announced plans to cut jobs and shut down a plant in France.

   Hyundai and Kia saw their combined share of the European market hit an all-time high in June despite the region's sluggish demand, earlier data showed.

   Hyundai and Kia's market share reached 6.3 percent of Europe's passenger car market in June, up from the previous 6.1 percent record in April, according to the data released by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

   In the first six months of the year, Hyundai and Kia posted a combined 5.9 percent market share in Europe, with sales rising 12.2 percent to 232,454 units and 25.1 percent to 173,232 vehicles, respectively.

   sam@yna.co.kr
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