Tuesday, 12 November, 2019

South Korea may declare crisis in city where GM plant is closing

20 2018 GM Executive Vice President Barry Engle and GM Korea President and CEO Kaher Kazem prepare for a meeting with South Korean lawmakers at the National Assembly in Seoul Tuesday morning to discuss ways to revive GM&a South Korea may declare crisis in city where GM plant is closing
Patty Aguilar | 20 February, 2018, 19:15

South Korea's government on Tuesday unveiled measures to tackle GM Korea's decision to shut down one of its five domestic factories in Gunsan, a port city some 270 km southwest of the capital Seoul. The state-owned Korea Development Bank is the second-largest shareholder in GM Korea, after General Motors, holding 17.2 percent of its shares. Since 2015 GM has left unsuccessful markets involving Europe, Australia, South Africa and Russian Federation.

Seoul officials said the company needs to show a plan to prove its commitment to resolving management issues and investing in local operations, before the government can consider rolling out supportive measures, as requested by the US automaker. The closure of the plant by GM is looked upon as a big setback for the president's plans with regard to boosting employment in the fourth largest Asia economy. He declined to comment further on the discussions between GM and the South Korean government.

Engle, who is president of GM International, did not elaborate on whether the company's plan for the two new vehicle models was dependent on government support for the automaker, according to South Korean politician Kim Sung-tae, who attended the meeting. GM Korea's accumulative losses have reached nearly 3 trillion won over the past five years.

Kim Eui-kyeom, spokesman for President Moon Jae-in, told a press briefing that the labor ministry chose to take emergency measures to designate the Gunsan region as an employment crisis area under the order of the president.

South Korean government officials said it was too early to decide on any financial backing, as it wanted to conduct due diligence before committing fresh investment in GM Korea.

2018 shows the gate of GM Korea's Gunsan plant about 270 kilometers south of Seoul. The plant is to be shut down by the end of May as part of GM's broader restructuring plan

United States President Donald Trump used the opportunity following the GM announcement to launch new criticism of the US and South Korea free trade agreement. "Engle said he will talk with the head of the Korea Development Bank".

"They have requested for help and a thorough audit of the situation is among many preconditions before any public funds can be set aside", a government official told Reuters, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, referring to GM.

But the automaker's decision to exit other unprofitable markets have exacerbated problems for GM Korea, which used to build numerous Chevrolet models GM once offered in Europe.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly's task force on GM Korea met with Barry Engle, president of GM International, Hankook Ilbo reported.

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