Reflections on the Australia – Korea relationship from 2012. How much has changed, even in light of the FTA? What work now needs to be done as a priority?
Australia and Korea are natural partners, and we both share untapped capacity for regional and global influence.
In 2012, the two-way trade volume surpassed 35 billion dollars, a 27% increase from the previous year. This made Korea Australia’s third largest export market and fourth largest trading partner, whilst Australia stands as Korea’s fifth largest trading partner. Furthermore, in 2011, over 40% of Korea’s mineral resources were imported from Australia making Australia Korea’s No 1 source of mineral resources.
The problem is that each country is relatively largely unknown by the other. We need to know much more than Gangnam Style, and sadly most of reporting about Korea in the Australian media is focused on the antics of North Korea.
Our relationship is built upon the sacrifice made by our veterans who fought for Korea’s freedom, and goes back to 1889 when the first Australian landed on Korean soil. Almost every home is dependant on Korean made household goods, as are our cities with smartphones and cars made in Korea.
Despite being Australia’s fourth largest trading partner, significant capacity for increased trade by small and medium-sized enterprises have yet to be realised, a missed opportunity which could improve Australia’s productivity by developing innovation, people, and capabilities.