How to catch an Asian Tiger: exporting to Korea
ALL the talk about international trade opportunities is focusing on the massive markets of China.
And while there is no denying Darling Downs exporters are looking to get their produce on the Silk Road there are other countries among the Asian Tigers - the top four Asian economies - that could help bring dollars to our producers and businesses.
A trade delegation met in Toowoomba on the eve of the Local Government Association's annual conference and the focus was on South Korea.
Daniel Kim, Trade and Investment Commissioner, South Korea, was in Queensland with 10 of his counterparts from around the world for the Queensland International Business Series which included the Premier's annual Export Awards.
While he was here he met with some of the businesses that the Trade and Investment Queensland Korea Office is currently assisting in Korea.
"I was keen to better understand their operations, challenges and growth agenda going forward," he said.
"I had two days in my schedule to visit regional Queensland.
"I specifically chose Toowoomba and asked my TIQ colleagues in Toowoomba, Andrew McCarrol and Geraldine Doumany, to organise meetings with CJ NutraCon, Feed Central, Kialla Pure Foods, Mort & Co, PB Agrifoods, Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, Weis and Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio.
"I was also keen to see the Wagners' new Wellcamp airport."
Mr Kim said the economic opportunities for Toowoomba and the surrounding region in Korea were continuing to evolve and were largely driven by Korea's ongoing economic development.
The country is predicted to be the fourth richest country in the world by 2050.
"Korea's food self-sufficiency ratios are declining below 50%," Mr Kim said.
"This will continue to drive outbound investment from Korea to the rest of the globe as it seeks to secure the long term supply of clean and safe food and food-related products."
Mr Kim said the taste buds of the Korean consumer were constantly evolving and there was a growing demand for organic, super foods and functional foods.
"Kialla Pure Foods is currently supplying organic flour to the Korean market and looking to expand its range of products in Korea," he said.
Korean consumers have fallen in love with Queensland mangoes, according to Mr Kim, with exports increasing from five tonnes just four years ago to more than 60 tonnes last year.
"Weis is riding this wave and successfully entered the Korean market nine months ago and is looking to expand their existing product range of mango ice cream and frozen yoghurts in Korea," Mr Kim said.
Mr Kim advised Toowoomba-based businesses looking to identify and capitalise on the opportunities arising in and from Asia not to put all their eggs in one basket.
"Keep an open mind and include Korea in your strategic thinking," he said.
"The bilateral relationship with Korea has a long and rich history dating back to the late 1800s when Australia sent missionaries to Korea.
"Through our participation in the Korean War, which is deeply appreciated by Koreans today, the bilateral relationship has been built on shared values and mutual respect and is far more intimate than purely a transactional relationship of buyer and seller."
Mr Kim said he observed positive energy and optimism about the future of the Garden City.
"The various infrastructure projects, completed - in construction and in the pipeline - across airport, road and rail will be transformative for Toowoomba and the surrounding economic region.
"Ongoing commitment and coordination across the region will be critical for this region to maximise its full potential."
Youth unemployment is becoming a significant challenge in Korea, Mr Kim said, which in turn was creating a compelling opportunity for Queensland-based VET vocational education and training.
"Players including Southwest TAFE can equip these young Koreans with the practical skills they need to get meaningful work," Mr Kim said.
University of Southern Queensland also schools a number of overseas students and that number looks set to grow.
To find out more about how to capitalise on the opportunities arising in and from Korea, contact Trade and Investment Queensland staff in Toowoomba or Korea.