The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AustCham Korea) hosted the 2020 Australia-Korea Business Awards at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul on Jan. 31. Over 200 dignitaries attended the high-profile event, which was held to recognize companies and individuals which have made significant efforts in expanding trade relations between Korea and Australia.
The occasion featured welcome addresses by H.E. James Choi, Australian ambassador to Korea, and Chris Raciti, chairman of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea, who highlighted the deepening confidence businesses have in each other’s economies.
Regarding the awards, Business of the Year went to Australian bank Pepper Savings Bank for its consumer banking efforts, including providing loans to SMEs and creating jobs in Jeolla and Gyeonggi Provinces. Macquarie Group, celebrating 20 years in Korea, took Corporate Social Responsibility honors for providing volunteers and donations to a wide range of charities in Korea. Australian firm IFM Investors in partnership with Hanwha Asset Management and Hyundai Investments won the Financial Services category for launching a US$420 million infrastructure debt fund in Korea.
Other Korean award winners included POSCO in the Australia-Korea Partnership category; Lotte International Oceania in the Agricultural, Food & Beverage category; the Korea Financial Investment Association (KOFIA) in the Industry Association/Advocacy category; and MoonBear Brewing in the Start-up & Small Business category. POSCO has a joint venture with Australian mining company Pilbara Minerals to build a downstream lithium chemical conversion facility in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province. The joint venture will enable POSCO to secure a stable supply of raw materials for manufacturing batteries.
AustCham Korea received applications for awards from the local community in November and December. The winners were selected by a panel of expert judges from the public and private sectors.
“The awards today highlight the diversity of Australian businesses,” said Ambassador Choi. “While our trade relationship was built on resources, the diversity of tonight’s nominees demonstrates the broad scope of Australia’s modern economy and our bilateral trade relationship with Korea.”
This year marks the sixth anniversary of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) and implementation continues to progress smoothly. Since the free trade agreement took effect in December 2014, bilateral trade has increased by more than 15 percent.
According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Korea is Australia's third-largest export market, with key exports including coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), iron ore and beef. In particular, in 2018, year-on-year Korean imports of Australian LNG increased 50 percent to AUD 5.7 billion; bottled wine went up 37 percent to AUD 18 million; sheep meat went up 29 percent to AUD 149.3 million; and fresh and frozen beef went up 25 percent to AUD 1.4 billion. Australia's key imports from Korea include refined oil, automobiles and electrical equipment.
“For more than ten years, the AustCham Korea Business Awards have been celebrating and recognizing exceptional companies, organizations and individuals that have contributed to the expanding Australia-Korea business relationship,” remarked Raciti. “The awards ceremony, which is the chamber’s premier event, demonstrate the success of liberalized trade between our two countries.”
AustCham Korea hosted Australia Day 2020 following the business awards. The event, which was attended by over 500 guests, offered fine Australian cuisine, beer, wine, gin and a visually creative cultural performance by the Ara Dance Company.