23 Oct Foreword by H.E. Mr Lee Baeksoon, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Australia
The world is entering into an era of new order called New Normal that has been unprecedented in the past 70 years in all fields. Judging from the recent trade conflicts between the US and China, the uncertainty of global economy is spreading.
Korea and Australia are in similar position with respect to their close relationship with the US in security and with China in economy. We can draw many cases in history, showing that overly dependent on a particular country makes its future precarious. Korea and Australia, the beneficiaries of a free and rule-based trade order, share the same concern about increasing spread of the unilateral protectionism. This means that middle powers like our two countries should unite in advocating the universal value, such as free trade.
Our two countries have been growing together as ally of liberal democracy and market economy, starting with the dispatch of Australian missionaries in the 1880s, followed by Australia’s participation in the Korean War in 1950 and the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1961. Our two countries’ economy has developed in a mutually beneficial way based on complementary relationships which have been further strengthened by the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) in December 2014. Australia has exported natural gas, minerals and beef, and Korea has utilised these to export petroleum products and automobiles. However, considering that Korea and Australia are the 11th and 12th largest economies in the world respectively, $30 billion worth of the trade volume between our two countries is still insufficient. Investment is also very limited as it is concentrated in the resources and real estate sectors.
If the 20th century was the age of the Atlantic, the 21st century is the age of the Pacific and is now expanding into the Indian Ocean. Korea had a horizontal expansion strategy centred on the US, China and Europe, it is currently pursuing New Southern Policy that emphasises vertical expansion to embrace ASEAN and India. It is in line with Australia’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. It is time for both countries to endeavour together to find areas for future economic cooperation as partners in this new era.
For example, the global energy transition is an exigent and very important task. The demand for green energy is high due to climate change, environmental pollution and nuclear accidents and the like. If the previous energy cooperation was done by exporting Australia’s energy to Korea, it would have to be a new way to build a value-added chain in the future. Cooperation in new energy resources such as lithium for batteries and hydrogen should be strengthened.
In the epoch of the 4th Industrial Revolution, scope of cooperation such as smart cities, smart farms, smart factories, fintech, digital healthcare, and digital contents in the digital society based on the Internet of Things will be limitless.
Since its establishment in 1978, KABC and AKBC have been the utmost important communication channels for private economic cooperation between Korea and Australia. In 2000, it raised the necessity of the KAFTA and proposed the establishment of a direct flight in 1986. The AKBC-KABC Joint Meeting, which has been held every year since its establishment, has reached 40th this year. In Korea, when a man turns 40, this is construed as “going her/his way without being swerved by the surrounding environment.” I believe that AKBC, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, will henceforth be an unswerving bridge for further economic cooperation.
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Australia