Last Thursday marked the 42nd AKBC-KABC Joint Meeting, which saw leaders from government and industry come together to celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Korea and the strength and dynamism of this bilateral relationship.
For the second year in a row, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 meant we were unable to meet face-to-face with members of our counterpart, the Korea-Australia Business Council (KABC). Instead, the meeting was held in hybrid format with participants in Australia joining the webinar virtually, and participants in Korea joining at the JW Marriott hotel in Seoul.
After Chair of the KABC, Mr Jeong-Woo Choi, opened the proceedings, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment delivered the keynote speech. The Minister reflected on the success of our relationship underpinned by “close strategic, economic and people-to-people ties”, and looked ahead to some of the opportunities for future collaboration, “boosting our economies and delivering new jobs and business opportunities”.
Remarking on the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations, we were delighted to hear from three other dignitaries in attendance – Mr Ki-Ho Han, Chairman of Korea-Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group; H.E. Jeong-sik Kang, Korean Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia; and H.E. Catherine Raper, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea.
The agenda for the rest of the Joint Meeting was divided into two sessions: Powering our Future and Evolving Opportunities in Traditional Industries. It was an exercise in mapping both the emerging industries that will come to define the Australia-Korea relationship in future years, as well as reflect on the opportunities to enhance bilateral engagement in industries that have well-established business-to-business relationships and mature commercial histories.
In the first session, we heard from Australian and Korean industry leaders in hydrogen and critical minerals, about how both nations can leverage these nascent resources to create lower carbon futures for the people and businesses for generations to come. It should be noted that in response to these emerging opportunities, the AKBC has released two reports this year, including the Mapping the Australia-Korea Hydrogen Intersections Report and a draft report Critical Minerals: Urgent Opportunities due to be finalised before the end of the year.
The second session saw representatives from the infrastructure, agribusiness and e-commerce, health and biotechnology, and defence sectors, highlight how Australia and Korea can embark on a new era of enhanced engagement across these industries over the next 60 years and beyond.
As is tradition, the chairs of the AKBC and KABC then signed the 42nd Annual Meeting Joint Statement, before Chair of the AKBC, Hon Simon Crean, delivered the closing remarks.
Wrapping up the formal proceedings, Mr Crean noted that “today’s Joint Meeting gives great confidence in the continuing strength and opportunity of the Australia-Korea relationship going forward … With work underway on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, in combination with the strength of the KAFTA which is going into its seventh year, there are huge opportunities imminently ahead of us.”
Thank you to all the AKBC members who joined us for this momentous occasion, and we look forward to seeing you at next year’s AKBC-KABC Joint Meeting, which will hopefully see us come together in-person for the first time in three years.