Korea’s economy

Since the Korean War ended in 1953, The Republic of Korea has had a remarkable transformation, becoming an economic and political powerhouse. This transformation has been referred to as the ‘Miracle on the Han River’.

Korea is currently the 4th largest economy in Asia and 11th largest in the world.

Korea is leading the world in

  • research and development intensity
  • digital displays, and
  • semiconductors

The country is home to iconic brands including

  • Samsung,
  • LG, and
  • POSCO

and the ‘Korean Wave’ of popular culture (including K-pop & K-drama and K-beauty) is now a global phenomenon.

This trajectory looks set to continue, with many forecasters expecting Korea to be amongst the most affluent countries (GDP per capita) in the world by 2050.

Korea-Queensland Trade

Korea is Queensland’s 3rd largest trading partner. In the year ending June 2016, Queensland’s total merchandise trade with Korea increased 26% to A$9.2 billion and Queensland’s exports to Korea increased 30% to A$6.1 billion.

Both Korea and Queensland benefit from the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA).

Bongeunsa Temple in the Gangnam District of Seoul, Korea.

Korea opportunities

CurrentMid termLong term

Current

  • Funds management
  • Premium processed food and beverages
  • Superfoods and functional foods
  • Horticulture
  • Nutraceuticals
  • School study tours and vocational education and training (VET)
  • Infrastructure – civil
  • Renewable energy
  • Joint research and development
  • Funds management and co-investment
  • Premium processed food and beverages
  • Superfoods, functional foods and food tech
  • Biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals
  • Medical devices and medical technology
  • School study tours and specialist VET
  • Infrastructure (civil, social and digital)
  • Intelligent transport systems (ITS)
  • Renewable energy and energy storage
  • Joint research and development, and commercialisation
  • Funds management and co-investment
  • Premium processed food and beverages
  • Superfoods, functional foods and food tech
  • Biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals
  • Medical devices and medical technology
  • School study tours and specialist VET
  • Infrastructure (civil, social and digital)
  • Intelligent transport systems (ITS)
  • Renewable energy and energy storage
  • Joint research and development, and commercialisation

Sector opportunities in Korea

Ageing population in Korea

Ageing population

Illnesses and ongoing changes in health needs associated with a rapidly ageing population is driving demand for a broad range of bio-health related products and services.

Pension funds are swelling with contributions outweighing outlays 3:1 and under intense pressure to boost returns. Asset allocations are increasing to alternative investments (commercial property, infrastructure & private equity).

Food slef sufficiency rations are falling below 50%

Food & agribusiness

Korean’s loyalty for some domestic products is declining. For example local fruits went from 37% (2009) to 29% (2014). Korean tastes are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. As a result, Korea’s imports of processed food, functional food and food ingredients continue to increase (6% year on year to A$16 billion in 2015).

Number one in the world for R&D intensity

Innovation

Korea is committed to investing in education and human capital. In 2014, Korea’s investment in research and development was A$71 billion or 4.3% of GDP (R&D intensity). Korea consistently ranks in the top three countries globally for patent productivity, science infrastructure and on Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index.

Relevant library resources Complete library

Korea Market Overview

Korea Market Overview

September 30, 2016

Export market overview and commissioner profile for Korea

View this resource

Commissioner’s intel: How to take your business to Korea

View the videos below, and hear from TIQ’s Trade and Investment Commissioner as he speaks of the opportunities in Korea.

Daniel Kim: Business trends in Korea: Emerging opportunities in the market

Daniel Kim: Practical tips: Hands on advice for doing business in Korea

Daniel Kim: How to take your business to Korea: Advance Queensland

Daniel Kim: How to take your business to Korea: The Weis Frozen Foods success story

Daniel Kim: How to take your business to Korea: The Populous success story

Daniel Kim: How to take your business to Korea: The Manbulloo success story

Daniel Kim: How to make Free Trade Agreements work for your business