Speech to the Korean International Trade Association Dinner
SAT 23 APRIL 2011
It is a great pleasure to be back in Seoul.
I last visited last November to participate in the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
The success of that Summit was due in large part to the energetic and creative chairing by the host nation and especially the active role played by His Excellency President Lee Myung-bak.
Looking ahead, I believe historians of your country will see Korea’s successful hosting of the G20 – the world’s leading economic forum – as a key to understanding Korea’s true emergence on to the world stage.
History will record three great steps, the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Korea’s admission to the OECD in 1996, and the G20 summit in 2010, three great steps which marked the path to Korea’s coming-of-age as a true middle power.
While these events stretch over 25 years, the Australia-Korea relationship stretches back much, much further over 120 years.
Our first steps together were taken in the late 1880s by missionaries from Australia who landed in Busan.
Then we truly walked together in the trenches of the Korean War.
Together, Australians and Koreans gave their lives to defend the young Republic against North Korean aggression.
More than 17,000 Australian troops served here during the Korean War, with 340 Australians sacrificing their lives. Of those, 281 remain, resting in Korean soil, at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan.
Tomorrow, I will honour their memory and their sacrifice, at a memorial service commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong.
A recent Australian documentary describes it as a “forgotten battle” of a “forgotten war”.
Fought in the days following 23 April 1951, the Battle of Kapyong saw a small force of Australians and other allies defeat an attack by a Chinese division numbering some 10,000 soldiers.
The outcome of this battle helped stop the Chinese spring offensive and proved crucial in preventing a Chinese breakthrough towards Seoul.
The Battle of Kapyong was but one of many fierce engagements in which Australia’s soldiers, sailors and airmen fought during the war.
So on Monday, I will attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service – Australia’s memorial day – at your National War Memorial.
I will also visit the Korean National Cemetery, to commemorate and honour all those Koreans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
And following the Korean War, we walked together still: as natural partners in peace.
Australian raw materials and natural resources helped re-build Korea and drive Korea’s industrialisation.
We were partners in one of the most remarkable economic success stories of modern times – Korea’s growth.
A story which has seen Korea transformed from an aid recipient to an aid donor within a single generation.
Our militaries have walked together and our businesses have walked together.
Today, it is the strong and growing people-to-people ties that define our partnership every day Australians and Koreans walking together still.
35,000 Koreans choose to come to Australia each year to study.
More Koreans come to Australia as young working-holiday makers than from nearly any other country.
There are around 140,000 people of Korean heritage who have chosen to make Australia home, and they make a valuable contribution to our nation.
These steps we take together – in study, on visits, through work and by living in each other’s countries – these steps together are the every day reality of the partnership we share.
Our economic partnership is also tremendously strong.
Korea is now Australia's fourth largest trading partner and third largest export market, from a significantly lower population base than Australia’s two bigger export markets.
Total merchandise trade in 2009-10 amounted to over $23.5 billion.
Australia is a safe, reliable and price-competitive supplier of many of the inputs that Korea has needed to drive its exports of automobiles, ships and electronics goods around the world and in turn to drive its economic growth at home.
As our economic relationship has grown, Korean companies have also prospered in Australia. Hyundai-Kia, Samsung and LG have become household names.
Australia’s liquefied natural gas trade with Korea is an essential part of this story.
This is why I welcome the agreement between Australian energy company Santos and its joint venture partner KOGAS to develop a project in Gladstone, with combined supply agreements worth more than $120 billion.
It is expected to produce 7.8 million metric tons of LNG a year, and to create 5,000 construction jobs.
Long-term supply arrangements, like this one, are clearly mutually beneficial.
They have helped Korean companies like POSCO secure access in a strong and growing market to iron ore and coal and, increasingly, to LNG. And they provide certainty for Australian business.
Our economic relationship is now moving into new areas.
Korea is developing a reputation in Australia for innovation and high technology. And Australia’s increasing sophistication in services is a perfect match for Korea’s new technological capabilities.
We have long said that the conclusion of a comprehensive FTA is the next logical step in the further development of our mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.
I am very confident that we can strike a mutually-acceptable agreement. I will be discussing this with President Lee on Monday.
Australia and Korea are also working closely together to strengthen the global economy.
As trading nations, we are both strong supporters of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade talks this year, seeing it as vital that the world trade agenda not fall backwards.
A successful Doha Round would be an important boost to the world trading system.
One way or other Doha should conclude in 2011.
Australia is working with Korea to try and get this done.
Australia and Korea worked closely together, along with others, to successfully establish the G20 as the premier global forum for economic cooperation.
This was a significant achievement, creating a new architecture to meet the challenges of our changing world.
The G20 saw unprecedented coordination among the world’s major economies to arrest the global economic crisis, and then put the global economy back on the road to recovery.
Australia worked hand-in-hand with Korea last year in its successful hosting of the G20, where significant progress was made.
This included advancing the G20 Framework for strong, balanced and sustainable global. Simply put, that translates into jobs, more prosperity, and better lives for our peoples.
It also included landmark reforms to strengthen the global financial system against future crises, and historic reform to the IMF to ensure better crisis response mechanisms.
I would particularly like to highlight President Lee’s leadership on a development agenda in the G20.
The benefits of the global economy need to be enjoyed by all people. Wealthy countries must make special efforts to assist those in need.
I am proud to be working so closely with Korea and other G20 members on this internationally.
Australia and Korea are building on these achievements to make sure that the G20 continues its significant role.
At home, Korea and Australia were two of only three developed countries to avoid dropping into recession during the recent global financial crisis.
Our countries benefited from our commitment to pursuing fundamental economic reforms that drive sustainable growth.
We both understand that the reform road leads to future prosperity.
In Australia, my Government is putting in place the major building blocks of a productivity agenda.
Continued macroeconomic stability and bringing the budget back into surplus.
Boosting productivity through well-targeted, direct investments by the Government in skills, infrastructure and innovation.
Improving workforce participation. And addressing key long-term challenges such as climate change.
Our two countries share the challenge of building clean low-emissions economies for the future.
President Lee has shown great leadership in this area, driving the global clean growth paradigm and advocating for low carbon approaches to development around the world.
It is an area where Australia and Korea are working closely together.
Through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Through the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, of which we are both members.
Through Australia’s Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute initiative.
And I am pleased to announce tonight that Australia will contribute $10 million to Korea’s Global Green Growth Institute, which has been established by the Korean Government to support the development of green growth strategies and policies in developing countries.
Australia will join the Institute as a core partner and will be represented on its board of directors.
Australia and Korea walked together during the Korean War.
Since then, Australian and Korean troops have served together on combat and peacekeeping missions in many other places around the world, including Vietnam, Cambodia, the Western Sahara, the Levant, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, our countries share a common interest in the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific, and especially the Korean Peninsula.
Korea was confronted again last year by provocative attacks from North Korea.
Australia joined with Korea and the international community in condemning the North’s unprovoked torpedoing of the ROK corvette Cheonan and the tragic loss of 46 sailors.
I was also deeply concerned by the North’s artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island last November.
Australia strongly condemned this unprovoked attack.
These incidents followed worrying reports that North Korea was developing a sophisticated uranium enrichment program in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
Australia remains committed to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and will continue to stand alongside Korea in condemning North Korean aggression.
In this spirit, in 2009 Australia and Korea signed a Joint Statement for Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation.
This was Korea’s first such bilateral security declaration with a country other than the United States.
It commits us to deepening our cooperation on defence and security matters, on regional as well as bilateral issues.
Given the region’s dynamism, our common interests, and our growing inter-dependencies, it makes sense to cooperate to address these challenges.
We are determined to work – together with our friends and neighbours such as Korea – to help build and ensure the long-term peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region.
For example, we are helping shape regional norms and institutions.
Australia and Korea are both founding members of the East Asia Summit.
With the recent expansion of the EAS, we now have an institution with the right membership and mandate to address the range of security, political and economic issues facing the region.
We will continue to work with Korea to strengthen the role of the EAS in managing regional challenges and promoting an inclusive community.
We are committed to pursuing inclusive regional economic integration through the EAS, where we are discussing consolidation of the six ASEAN+1 Free Trade Agreements.
Genuine trade liberalisation and deeper economic integration across EAS members will benefit all member countries.
Australia and Korea are working together on global challenges such as climate change, clean energy, and the global economic recovery.
And we have consistently demonstrated our willingness to share responsibility for global, as well as regional, security.
Beyond our immediate region, Australia and Korea are both fully engaged in combating terrorism and countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
We are working with the United States and other allies in Afghanistan to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe-haven for terrorists.
Together, we are working to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
And we are building that shared future, through a friendship that has stood the test of time.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Republic of Korea.
To celebrate this, our two governments declared that this year would be the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship.
But we see this as a relationship “fifty years young” rather than ‘fifty years old”, forward-looking and vibrant.
Australia and Korea are natural partners.
We are similar-sized economies.
We are both free trading nations, committed to a stable, open and rules-based global trading order.
Our trade links are intense and highly complementary.
Australia’s strengths in raw materials, energy and services have complemented Korea’s strengths in mass production and heavy industry.
We are both committed to a stable and prosperous Asia-Pacific, dynamic economically and free from conflict.
We are both alliance partners of the United States, seeing the US presence in Asia as fundamental to regional stability.
We are G20 economies, members of the East Asia Summit, and active participants in APEC.
As middle powers, we are committed to multilateralism and believe in doing our part to strengthen a rules-based global order.
Like Korea, Australia is seeking election to a non-permanent Security Council seat in coming years.
Most importantly, we share values.
Our societies are vibrant democracies, with transparent and accountable governments.
Our economies are competitive and dynamic, based on economic reform and productivity growth.
Our peoples believe in the value of hard work and education.
As natural partners and close friends, I am committed to building Australia’s relationship with Korea.
This is a partnership full of promise and potential.
And I look forward to a rich future of Australia-Korea cooperation.