SEOUL Nov 9 Honda Motor Co is
considering importing more cars into South Korea from the United
States instead of neighbouring Japan, its chief executive said
on Wednesday, in a move aimed at avoiding damage from the yen's
The move by the Japanese car maker comes after its bigger
rival Toyota Motor Corp said last week it would sell
U.S.-made Sienna minivans in South Korea, shipping cars from the
United States for the first time to the country.
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito made the remarks to reporters in
Japan's No.2 automaker already ships the U.S. version of the
Accord to South Korea, and sends the other models it sells there
-- the CR-V, CR-Z, Insight and Civic -- from Japan.
The strong yen is making exports from Japan less
cost-competitive and profitable, while a possible free trade
agreement between South Korea and the United States has given
added incentive to reduce shipments from Japan.
Japanese auto executives have complained that Tokyo was not
doing enough to stem the yen's rise and sign free trade
agreements, saying that was making it difficult to compete
against the likes of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co .
The move also comes as Japanese firms are sharply losing
their market share in Korea to European rivals such as BMW
and Volkswagen , also partly hit by the
earthquake in Japan earlier this year.
Sales of Japanese cars in Korea plunged 21 percent in the
January-October period, while sales of German vehicles jumped 34
The move to import cars from the United States will have a
limited impact on overall earnings, however, because Japanese
automakers have a tiny share of the South Korean market.
Last year, Honda sold 5,600 cars in South Korea, while
Toyota sold 10,000.