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AKBC E-newsletter June Edition

Dear AKBC members,

A big welcome home to our 13 AKBC delegates who recently visited Korea as part of our 2022 delegation to Korea. Led by the Hon. Simon Crean and former Australian Ambassador to Korea Bill Paterson, this year’s program was designed to further engagement between Australia and Korea in hydrogen and critical minerals – the two sectors we’ve identified as most promising in the pair’s economic relationship.

With the group visiting three cities over four days (Changwon, Gwangyang and Seoul), the jam-packed schedule offered many highlights, such as site visits to Hanwha Defence and POSCO steelworks, executive roundtables with POSCO executives, including the Chairman and H2 Korea, meet-and-greets with local political figures (including Australian Ambassador to Korea H.E. Catherine Raper), and the Korea-Australia Business Networking Dinner hosted by our partner in Korea, the Federation of Korean Industries.

With the significance of critical minerals and hydrogen receiving renewed focus following Australia and Korea’s pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050, this trip could not have come at a more pertinent time. We thank our delegates for demonstrating that Australian business will continue to commit to the Australia-Korea bilateral relationship – something worth reinforcing as both countries usher in new administrations.

Whilst Anthony Albanese and the ALP have experienced a seemingly smooth transition into power, Yoon Suk-Youl and the PPP are still trying to find their groove following their recent election. Having just announced his Cabinet, Yoon now faces the tough task of navigating the Democratic Party majority in the National Assembly, forcing him to secure opposition support if he wishes to push legislation through.

However, a gridlocked parliament may be the least of his worries, as Korea becomes engulfed by rising stagflation fears. With sluggish growth and rapid inflation gripping the Korean economy, Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho has conceded that Korea is facing a “full-blown crisis”, stressing the importance of avoiding any slowdown in economic activity over the coming months.

This advice aligns with the deregulated, private-led growth Yoon and the PPP envision for the Korean economy. “We need to change our economy to be led by the private sector and the market at a time when we’re in a crisis” Yoon recently stated, signalling a return to business-driven policies from the Korean government after five years of pro-working class ideology saw businesses stifled by minimum wage hikes, the empowerment of union movements, and rigid labour laws.
Whilst Korea as a whole may be experiencing slow growth, this is certainly not the case for SK Group, who have just displaced Hyundai as Korea’s second largest chaebol. With a 22 per cent year-on-year increase in total assets to 292 trillion won ($326.8 billion AUD), the producer of batteries, semiconductors and pharmaceuticals is now behind only Samsung when it comes to Korea’s most valuable family-run conglomerates. They still have a long way to go if they want to take the top spot, as Samsung have recorded a staggering 484 trillion won ($542.1 billion AUD) in total assets.
Turning our sights back home – the AKBC would like to extend a big thank you to all our members for their continued support as we transition into our new membership model. If you are yet to sign up now is the perfect time, as all memberships will be renewed on July 1st. With four levels of membership available, you can align to the package that meets your current business needs, while knowing that as your business grows, we’ll grow with you to help position you for success.
Looking forward, we can expect a lot more delegations to and from Korea as travel restrictions continue to ease. September will see the AKBC receive a financial services delegation led by the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA), where we can hopefully return the hospitality our own delegation was shown earlier this month. Headlining these international events is the 43rd annual AKBC-KABC Joint Meeting – taking place in Sydney on the 29th and 30th of November, this is the premier event on the Australia-Korea trade and investment calendar and is widely considered as the must-attend event by senior executives working in the Australia-Korea relationship.
Please save the date and reach out at lgriffin@akbc.com.au for more information.
Yours sincerely,
Liz Griffin

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Australia Korea Business Council
PO Box 24430
Melbourne, Vic 3001 Australia
Liz Griffin – Executive Director
info@akbc.com.au

The Australia-Korea Business Council is the leading national body committed to strengthening the Australia-Korea economic relationship.