South Korea

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has the 12th-largest economy in the world (US$ terms). The level of investment between Australia and South Korea has grown and diversified over the last decade.

As Australia's fourth-largest trading partner, bilateral trade (goods and services) totalled A$33.1 billion in 2015-16, representing around five per cent of Australia's international trade.

South Korea is also one of NSW's largest trading partners, conducting A$6.2 billion worth of bilateral merchandise trade in 2015-16. NSW top merchandise exports to South Korea included coal, copper, meat, and aluminium, while imports included refined petroleum, motor vehicles, monitors and televisions.

South Korea is also a large source market for international visitors – NSW received 211,800 visitors from South Korea in 2016-17, spending A$588 million.

Since 1991, NSW has had a Sister State Agreement with the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Like Sydney, Seoul has a strong financial base, highly efficient logistics, and a very competitive information and communications technology industry.

Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement

The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) entered into force in December 2014.

The KAFTA is expected to reduce barriers to export market access with South Korea for businesses in NSW, including:

  • Financial services
  • Education services, including vocational and technical education
  • Professional services, including engineering and architecture
  • Aged care services
  • Creative industries
  • Agriculture and food
  • Advanced manufacturing, including  pharmaceuticals and automotive and aerospace components
  • Resources and energy

The NSW Government has developed its North Asia FTA Engagement Plan to describe how it will help NSW businesses take advantage of the opportunities from the Korean agreement, plus agreements with Japan and China.

Premier's visit to South Korea in August 2016

In May 2016, Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited the Republic of Korea and met with the Mayor of Seoul, Mr Park Won-soon. Ms Berejiklian and Mr Park reinvigorated an agreement on strengthening exchanges and cooperation between NSW and Seoul in areas of common interest:

  • Foreign investment attraction
  • Startup ecosystem, including fintech, biotech and digital creative
  • International events and conferences

The meeting also celebrated the Sister State Relationship between the NSW Government and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, established in 1991.

During the mission, the Premier also visited the Seoul Metropolitan Government Startup Hub to discuss opportunities for greater partnership between the Seoul Startup Hub and the Sydney Startup Hub.

While a visit to Seoul National University Elementary School showcased education and cultural exchanges occurring between the school and Chatswood Public School in NSW. Future engagement will ensure deeper cultural exchanges and appreciation from both sides.