South Korea trade deal draws fire from Canadian auto sector

Tue Mar 11, 2014 5:14pm EDT
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* Ford of Canada, Unifor union say deal has drawbacks

* S. Korea has little appetite for Canadian vehicles

* Canada needs more trade pacts to compete, analysts say

* Auto sector employed 117,200 in Canada last year

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, March 11 (Reuters) - A new free trade agreement with South Korea will throw a wrench into Canada's auto sector recovery, union leaders and an automaker warned on Tuesday, highlighting the pressure on an industry already struggling with competition from Mexico.

The pact, which immediately drew fire from Ford Motor Co of Canada Ltd and Canada's largest private-sector union, underscores problems with the size and cost of cars being produced in the country's industrial heartland, experts said.

"We don't, in Canada, build the type of vehicles that are much in demand in South Korea," said Tony Faria, a University of Windsor professor and auto industry expert. "It's not as if any trade deal we set up with South Korea is necessarily going to result in more vehicles being exported."

Canada and South Korea said earlier on Tuesday they had wrapped up talks on a long-delayed free trade deal, Canada's first in fast-growing Asia. Canada's Conservative government touted the benefits of the deal, which is expected to boost farm product exports.   Continued...