Winter 2018 Update

For a region that is often overlooked in the media, the Korean peninsula is suddenly very much in the spotlight. Few people will not have seen the footage of President Moon Jae-In crossing the demarcation line into North Korea at the invitation of President Kim Jong-Un in April. And fewer will have missed the meeting between President Trump and President Kim in Singapore in June.


Flying under the radar however were the local elections in June across South Korea which gave President Moon’s Minjoo party a landslide victory over the conservative opposition. Whether everyone’s wish for a unified and denuclearised Korea is realistic or not, after a long period of political instability under the previous President, Moon’s policy of appeasement with the North, and a shoring up of his support base, augurs well for a period of consolidation and continued economic growth in the South.

For Victoria, South Korea is a particularly important market for our agribusiness, education and tourism exports. Less well known is the fact that Korea is also a growing market for our beauty and personal care products.

In 2017 South Korea’s beauty and personal care industry was estimated to be valued at approximately USD12.6 billion. (Source: Beauty and Personal Care in South Korea, Euromonitor International, May 2018). Koreans are not only huge consumers of personal care and beauty products, they are interested in products perceived to be natural, including organics, and those originating from countries with a clean and green reputation, such as Australia.

South Korea has a rapidly growing e-commerce market with online purchases from foreign retail sites reaching USD1.6 billion in 2016. (Source: E-Commerce in Korea, Austrade, August 2017). This comes as no surprise given South Korea has some of the world’s fastest internet connection speeds and very high levels of mobile adoption, internet and social media usage. E-commerce is creating opportunities for Victorian companies that manufacture beauty products and in 2017, perfumery and cosmetics represented Victoria’s ninth largest merchandise exports to South Korea. (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics)

South Korea is also well known for its leadership in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) products, particularly semiconductors, displays, mobile devices and computers.  As the country moves forward, South Korea is also looking to build capabilities in the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial and augmented reality (AR/VR), big data management, 3D printing and cloud computing, creating opportunities for Victorian companies with innovative products and ideas.

Other technology related focus areas for South Korea, with potential opportunities for trade or collaborations with Victoria, include digital health, cyber security and fintech.

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