The Korean Peninsula was governed by a number of Korean dynasties for more than a millennium until annexed by Japan in 1910 following the Russo-Japanese War. Current President Park Geun-hye is the Republic of Korea’s (ROK’s) first woman President. The ROK is the world’s fifteenth largest economy (by nominal GDP) and was the first developing country and former aid recipient to join the OECD.
Rapid economic development in Korea has been export-led, and ROK initially inserted itself into the world market through a number of competitive firms in the heavy industrial sectors strongly supported by low-cost labour. The ROK has continued its focus on high-tech industries including electronics, semiconductors, shipbuilding and automobiles.
Relations with the United States continue to be a cornerstone of the ROK’s foreign, trade and defence policies. Economic and political links with China are of growing importance to ROK and China is the main destination for Korean investment therefore becoming its largest trading partner.
BILATERAL TRADE: REPUBLIC OF KOREA - NZ
New Zealand’s bilateral relationship has strengthened in recent years through engagement in economics and trade, people-to-people links, film and culture, education, science and technology, defence and promotion of shared interests in regional and global issues. The ROK is New Zealand’s fifth largest bilateral trading partner. Two-way merchandise trade totals more than NZ$4 billion in the 12 months to December 2014. New Zealand’s exports to the ROK include logs, aluminium, beef, kiwifruit, dairy and seafood; imports from the ROK include refined oil and, capital and consumer items such as cars, machinery and electronic equipment.
Trade between the ROK and New Zealand has grown four-fold since 1990. There is tremendous scope to further expand these ties with the FTA that has been signed between the two countries in 2015. The FTA places New Zealand on a level with other countries which already have negotiated agreements with ROK.
There are approximately 30,000 Koreans living in New Zealand (census 2013). As of 2014, the ROK is New Zealand’s seventh largest tourism market (visitor numbers 54,277 in year to November 2014) and an important source of visitor expenditure. There is a popular Working Holiday Scheme between NZ & ROK whereby 1,800 young Koreans & New Zealanders can work in the other country for up to a year.
Official Name: Republic of Korea (ROK)
Land Area: 99,678 sq km
Population: 50 million
Capital City: Seoul
Religion: Christian 29%, Buddhist 23%
Currency: South Korean Won
Exchange Rate: US$1 = KRW1099 (as of Dec 2014)
GDP: 2013 US$1,304 billion
GDP per Head: 2013 US$31,967 at PPP
Real GDP growth: 2013 3%
Exports: 2014 US$573 billion (up 2.4%)
Imports: 2014 US$526 billion (up 2%)
Main exports: Electronic equipment, vehicles, machinery, mineral fuels, ships
Current account: 2013 US$80 billion surplus
Inflation: Sept 2014 1.1%
Unemployment rate: Oct 2014 3.2%
Sources including Economist Intelligence Unit, Bank of Korea, Korea International Trade Association, Korea Customs Service through Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade; New Zealand