World Bulletin/News Desk
France called on the European Commission on Friday to monitor imports of South Korean-made cars, taking the first step towards triggering a safeguard clause in a free-trade deal that could lead to duties being reimposed.
Since the trade pact came into force in July 2011, France has seen imports of South Korean cars surge while its own carmakers have lost domestic market share to the likes of Hyundai and affiliate Kia, leaving them saddled with massive overcapacity.
France's biggest carmaker, PSA Peugeot Citroen announced plans to close a plant near Paris and cut 8,000 jobs, leaving outspoken Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg battling to limit the damage and avoid further closures.
Montebourg, who has in the past openly supported protectionism, said last week that imports of small diesel cars had risen 1,000 percent in a year, which he said warranted monitoring and possibly restrictions.
"The surveillance of vehicle trade flows aims to shed light on the extent of bilateral imbalances," the industry ministry said in a statement.
"It makes importers have to obtain a permit from the European Commission before all imports," he added. That allows the European Union's executive arm to determine if imports are indeed strong enough to trigger the safeguard clause.
One of the most ambitious trade pacts the EU has negotiated, the agreement with South Korea includes a safeguard clause which allows the EU to re-impose duties if producers in sensitive industries such as cars are hit by a particularly strong surge in imports.
The pact has long been a major source of concern for European carmakers, with the ACEA industry lobby sounding the alarm about "asymmetrical trade flow relations".
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht says trade with South Korea benefits Europe overall, pointing to data showing EU exports to the country climbing 16 percent in 2011 from 2010 to 32.4 billion euros ($39.40 billion). That compares to 24.7 billion euros in 2007.
Russia's oil output stands at over 10 million barrels per day, the world's largest, but it needs new sources of crude oil, including hard-to-recover deposits and the Arctic, to sustain this level
The strike at Yue Yuen is not just one of China's biggest in recent years, it's also more clearly driven by workers' fears that they have been scammed by an opaque and convoluted welfare payment system.
When the system is in place citizens will be able to buy a limited amount of subsidised fuel, and will have to pay a normal, market price for any extra quantities.
Production in Upper Nile state's Paloch oilfields, where output has not been hampered by the conflict, stood at 159,000 barrels per day this week.
Dragomir Stoynev accused fellow European Union members of a politically-motivated attempt to scupper the project, and urged the bloc to understand the effect that doing so would have on its members.
The drops have come mainly because Japan did not take any cargoes in March and South Korea is not scheduled to take any shipments in April, according to the tanker data.
Japan's finance ministry and central bank have declined to comment on the payments.
But a survey shows that most people believe inflation is speeding up and could surpass 37 percent this year.
A fifth payment of $450 million was due on April 15, contingent on Iran having diluted half of its most sensitive stockpile of nuclear materials
The year-on-year inflation rate in the 18 countries sharing the euro was 0.5 percent in March against 0.7 percent in February, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.
Pushed by higher food and shelter costs, the consumer price index rose in March.
Country of origin labels are currently voluntary in the European Union and many of the bloc's governments want to keep it that way
While reverse flows would help cushion the effects of a Russian export cut during mild-demand summer months, analysts say they would not be sufficient in winter.
The tanker, Aegean Dignity, is due to take its load to Italy, the NOC quoted an oil official as saying in a statement on its website
TAP aims at enhancing the security of natural gas supply as well as diversification of gas supplies for the European markets.