Korea and New Zealand celebrated the first year of the free trade agreement between the two countries at a seminar and networking function held at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The Year End Grand Hui event, cohosted by the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea, known as The Kiwi Chamber, and New Zealand Embassy in Korea, was attended by more than 150 dignitaries from the government and local business community. Immediately before the Grand Hui, a seminar hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and New Zealand Embassy enabled 60 interested Korean business representatives to learn more about the FTA and New Zealand economic environment.
New Zealand Ambassador to Korea Clare Fearnley provided the keynote address, emphasising the mutually beneficial nature of the FTA, while Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) Director General for FTA Negotiations Yoo Myung-hee and KCCI Vice President Kang Homin addressed guests to commemorate the important occasion.
“It is good to see that even at an early stage the Korea-New Zealand free trade agreement is delivering on its promise and benefiting businesses in both countries,” said Ambassador Fearnley.
The latest trade figures for the first nine months of 2016 show that Korea’s exports to New Zealand increased in value 18 percent to US$1.1 billion, with strong performances in sectors such as passenger cars (up 8 percent), electrical equipment (up 76 percent) and railway coaches (up 17 percent).
For New Zealand exports to Korea, products covered by the FTA have bucked an overall decrease from January through September 2016. New Zealand’s food and beverage exports are up 16 percent compared to a year ago to US$317 million, including gains for dairy products (12 percent), fruit (24 percent), seafood (26 percent), deer velvet (81 percent), meat extracts (62 percent) and wine (28 percent).
The business communities can look forward to a third round of tariff cuts on Jan. 1, 2017, which will make imports from both countries even more affordable for consumers.
Dr. Tony Garrett, chairman of the Kiwi Chamber, added, “The Kiwi Chamber Year End Grand Hui is an important annual event for the chamber, and this year is extra special as we celebrate the first year of the Korea-New Zealand FTA, which the Kiwi Chamber has advocated for and supported since its inception. We are very pleased to have Ambassador Fearnley, Director General Yoo, Vice President Kang and members of the business community here this evening as we continue to build on this trade agreement and expand business relationships well into the future.”
The Hui, which is a traditional Māori social gathering or assembly, offered guests a New Zealand-themed culinary experience which included world-class wine and beer from the home country, coupled with a Maori cultural performance by Ngati Herekore and contemporary New Zealand music. A lucky draw included top prizes from key sponsors Singapore Airlines, Babich Wines, Monteith’s Beer, Zespri, Ecostore and Killinchy Gold Ice Cream.