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Australia to bolster bilateral trade with South Korea

  • Trade between the two countries accounts for about $41.3 billion of Australia’s total international trade.
  • Food and beverage exports are a major focus with Aussie wine exports growing by 81.5% to $45.5 million.
  • Koreans have a love affair with our fruit with one online retailer selling a single Australian mango for $23.

Australia is ramping up efforts to bolster its exports to South Korea with a new report aiming to further develop long-term and mutually beneficial business relationships with Korean importers.

The Australia-Korea Business Council (AKBC) this week released the ‘Food for Thought’ report, which hopes to expand the two country’s already lucrative trading partnership.

South Korea is Australia’s fourth largest export destination, and despite its small size (by landmass), it is the world’s 12th largest economy, buying billions of dollars of Aussie food and beverage products from beef to chicken, rock lobsters, honey, lupins, and wine, among others.

Bilateral trade with South Korea accounted for about $41.3 billion of Australia’s international trade in 2019 (4.5% of total), according to a federal government report.

While Aussie wine exports are growing by 81.5% to $45.5 million in the year ending September 2021, it seems South Korea cannot get enough of our mangoes.

At the launch of the report at the offices of PwC in Perth on February 16, a mango exporter noted that one online retailer sells a single Australian mango for $23.

While this is merely indicative of Korea’s love for the fruit, which is considered a treat there and often found in gift packs, Aussies might also start playing more for the edible stone fruit.

As the price of crude oil hits a seven-year high, to more than US$90 a barrel, Aussie mango farmers have seen a steep increase in input costs this harvest, however fruit prices have remained stagnant.

With the costs of fertilisers and fuels rising, particularly diesel, growers are still selling most mangoes at the same price they were sold at some 16 years ago.

Those costs may be passed on to domestic consumers, which could dampen local demand, yet it seems South Korea will always be accepting of the product despite the price.

AKBC Executive Director Liz Griffin said at the launch of the report that the council has six priorities it focuses on in fostering the bilateral relationship with Australia, with food and beverage, as well as critical minerals at the very top.

In 2014, the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement came into effect, resulting in more than 99% of Aussie exports to Korea eligible to enter duty-free or with preferential access.

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