Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Wellington, 20 January 2015: The Embassy of the Republic of Korea today announced that it has established a Korea-New Zealand Friendship Advisory Group in order to further deepen relationships between the two countries in business, trade, culture and people to people exchanges. The Advisory Group includes eight honorary advisors, and Michael Stephens, Wellington Lawyer and Chair of the Korean Cinerama Trust, will be the Coordinator of the Group.
The other initial honorary advisors are: Stephen Epstein, Associate Professor and Programme Director at Victoria University’s School of Languages and Cultures; Melissa Lee, MP and Chair of the New Zealand-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Group; Des Vinten, NZ Korea Veterans Association President; Eric Barratt, former Managing Director of publicly listed Sanford Limited and Chair of the Korea NZ Business Council; Peter Kennedy, former NZ Ambassador to Korea and Executive Director of the NZ Institute of International Affairs, Adele Mason, Asia NZ Foundation’s Acting Executive Director who was also instrumental in establishing the Korea Film Festivals; and Simon Park from the NZ KIMCHI Club Network.
The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to New Zealand, HE Mr Kim Hae-yong said, “We have established this group with the express purpose of further promoting friendship between Korea and New Zealand through increasing people to people and culture exchanges. Another aim is to enhance cooperation and coordination between the Embassy and the various Korean related organisations in New Zealand.”
The formation of the Advisory Group coincides with finalisation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Korea and New Zealand that is very dear to the heart of Ambassador Kim who was Korea’s Chief Negotiator when formal negotiations for the FTA commenced.
Korea is New Zealand’s sixth largest export market and New Zealand’s eighth largest source of imported goods and services with a two way trade of $4 billion in the year ended June 2014. When ratified, the NZ-Korea FTA should result in NZ exporters saving an estimated NZ$65 million in the first year alone.
Ambassador Kim said, “I want to thank the Advisory Group members for making themselves available. They are all eminent people who have done much to foster greater understanding between the two countries. I trust that working together they will be able to build on that and forge deeper relationships between our peoples on all levels in the new post-FTA era.”