House of Representatives Committees

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Committee activities (inquiries and reports)

Australia 's relationship with the Republic of Korea and developments on the Korean peninsula

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June 2006

© Commonwealth of Australia 2006

ISBN 0 642 78808 1 (printed version)
ISBN 0 642 78809 X (HTML version)


Membership of the Committee
Membership of the Sub-Committee
Terms of reference
List of abbreviations
List of recommendations

Chapter 1 Australia ’s engagement with the Korean peninsula
Chapter 2 Inter-governmental relations
Chapter 3 The economic relationship
Chapter 4 Challenges facing the economic relationship
Chapter 5 Cultural relations
Chapter 6 Education and research
Chapter 7 Developments on the Korean peninsula
Appendix A: List of Submissions
Appendix B: List of Exhibits
Appendix C: Witnesses appearing at public hearings



For over half a century Australia and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have enjoyed an important and productive relationship. The RoK is the tenth largest economy in the world and the third largest in Asia. In 2005, the RoK was Australia’s third largest export market and fourth largest trading partner. Our trading relationship is complementary— Australia exports natural resources to the RoK and imports manufactured goods from the RoK.

This report reviews that trading relationship, but goes further to include issues such as cross-cultural understanding, and relations between Australian and Korean institutions, both government and non-government.

The report also includes a commentary on issues concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea because of their potential impact on regional trade and security.

The relationship between Australia and the RoK is strong and exists on many levels. While there appear to be no major impediments to the relationship, opportunities exist at the margins for enhancement.

Government to government interactions play an important role in setting the agenda in any bilateral relationship. Reciprocal visits by Australian and RoK Government Ministers are frequent and inter-government cooperation and consultation exists at many levels.

Australia and the RoK share a number of security interests in the Asia-Pacific region and the belief that cooperation in the areas of peacekeeping, consequence management, and defence industry cooperation are key focal points. The report recommends continued defence cooperation and further exploration of defence cooperation opportunities.

Trade is the mainstay in the Australia–RoK relationship. The report reviews trade between the two countries and the challenges facing the economic relationship. Organisations such as AusTrade, and the Australia-Korea Business Council provide valuable assistance to Australian exporters. There is, however, the potential to expand the trade undertaken by the small business sector. To this end, greater support should be provided, by way of organisations such as the Overseas Korean Traders Association.

Free trade agreements are another way to increase trade, but any free trade agreement should not be at the expense of Australian and Korean cultural industries. As well, agriculture issues should be resolved early in any negotiations.

Educational services is an important sector in Australia’s trade relationship with the RoK. The RoK is the second most important source country for foreign students studying in Australia. This market can be developed further through improving the educational experience of visiting students, reviewing visa requirements, and mutually recognising educational qualifications.

Cultural understanding enhances Australia’s relationship with the RoK. There is potential to strengthen cultural understanding. For example, Australian businesses can gain an understanding of Korean culture by engaging local representatives in Korea. There are also opportunities to build country–to–country cultural understanding through sporting links and cultural exchanges.

The Australia-Korea Foundation (AKF) is a key body promoting the Australia-RoK relationship. The AKF promotes exchanges and institutional links in many areas and at all levels. The Committee recognises the valuable work of the AKF and has reviewed the expertise contributed by board members. This expertise covers the areas of AKF focus and the majority of board members have direct experience working in the RoK. Nevertheless, the report recommends that board membership should include more members with an intimate knowledge of Korean society and culture.

Teaching the Korean language and culture in Australian schools also promotes cultural understanding. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in Australian student interest in learning Korean. There are several reasons for this decline and the report presents a strategy to address this problem.

There is a high level of collaboration between Australia and the RoK in science and technology research. The risk, however, is that this activity becomes piecemeal and uncoordinated. The Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training needs to take the lead in providing a strategic direction through the development of an action agenda.

The RoK occupies an important place in North Asia. Situated between Japan and China, the RoK has established itself as an economic force in the region and globally. It is important that Australia continues to maintain and grow its relations with the RoK. I believe that this report, through its analysis and recommendations, will enhance what is already a strong relationship between the two countries.



Hon. David Jull MP

Chair, Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee

Membership of the Committee


Senator A B Ferguson


Deputy Chair

Hon G J Edwards, MP



Senator the Hon N Bolkus - from 01/12/04 to 30/06/05

Hon B G Baird, MP


Senator A Bartlett - from 9/12/05

Mr R C Baldwin , MP - from 01/12/04 to 26/05/05


Senator G Campbell – from 23/06/05 to 28/11/05

Mr R C Baldwin , MP - from 01/12/04 to 26/05/05


Senator P M Crossin - from 01 to 06/12/04 then from 28/11/05

Mr P A Barresi, MP


Senator the Hon P Cook – from 06/12/04 to 30/06/05

Hon K C Beazley, MP - from 01/12/04 to 08/02/05


Senator A Eggleston

Mr M Danby, MP


Senator B Harradine - from 01/12/04 to 30/06/05

Mrs P Draper, MP


Senator S Hutchins

Mrs J Gash, MP


Senator D Johnston

Mr S W Gibbons, MP


Senator L J Kirk

Mr B W Haase, MP


Senator K Lundy - from 01/12/04 to 23/06/05

Mr M J Hatton, MP - from 08/02/05



Hon D F Jull, MP


Senator J A L Macdonald - from 01/12/04 to 23/06/05

Hon J E Moylan, MP


Senator C M Moore – from 23/06/05

Hon G D Prosser, MP


Senator M A Payne

Hon B C Scott, MP


Senator N Scullion – from 17/08/05

Mr R C G Sercombe, MP


Senator N Stott Despoja

Hon W E Snowdon, MP


Senator R S Webber - from 23/06/05

Dr A J Southcott, MP – from 9/02/06



Mr C P Thompson, MP – from 26/05/05



Mr M B Turnbull, MP – to 9/2/06



Ms M Vamvakinou, MP



Mr B H Wakelin, MP



Mr K W Wilkie, MP

Membership of the Sub-Committee


Hon D F Jull, MP


Acting Chair

Senator M A Payne ( from 10/05/05 until 3/11/05 )


Deputy Chair

Senator L Kirk



Senator A Bartlett (from 8/02/06 )

Mr P A Barresi , MP


Senator P M Crossin (from 2/12/05 )

Mr M Danby , MP


Senator A Eggleston

Mrs T Draper , MP


Senator A B Ferguson (ex officio)

Hon G J Edwards , MP (ex officio)


Senator S Hutchins

Mrs J Gash , MP


Senator D Johnston

Mr M J Hatton MP (from 8/02/2005 )


Senator C M Moore (from 23/06/05 )

Mr R C G Sercombe , MP


Senator M Payne (from 2/12/05 )

Hon W E Snowdon, MP


Senator N J Stott Despoja

Dr A J Southcott , MP (from 23/02/2006 )


Senator R S Webber (from 17/08/05 )

Mr C P Thompson , MP (from 26/05/2005 )



Mr M Turnbull , MP (until 9/02/2006 )



Ms M Vamvakinou, MP



Mr B Wakelin , MP



Mr K W Wilkie , MP

Committee Secretariat


Dr Margot Kerley

Inquiry Secretary

Dr John Carter

Research Officer

Mr Michael Crawford

Administrative Officer

Mrs Jessica Butler


Terms of reference

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade shall inquire into and report on Australia's relationship with the Republic of Korea; and developments on the Korean peninsula.

The Committee shall review political, strategic, economic (including trade and investment), social and cultural issues; and consider both the current situation and opportunities for the future.

List of abbreviations


Australian Academy of Science


Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Automotive Competitiveness and Investment Scheme


Australian Customs Service


Australian Defence Force


Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association


Australian Education International


Australian Film Commission


Australia–Korea Business Council


Australia-Korea Foundation


Australia-Korea Teacher Exchange


Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation


Australian Red Cross


Australian Sports Commission


Association of South East Asian Nations


Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering


Australian Agency for International Development


Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation


Catholic Agency for Overseas Aid and Development


Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students


Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation


Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry


Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts


Department of Education, Science and Training


Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs


Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources


Democratic People's Republic of Korea


European Free Trade Association


English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students


Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowships


Education Services for Overseas Students


Free Trade Agreement


Higher School Certificate


International Crisis Group


information and communication technology


Korea-Australasia Research Centre


Korean Education Centre


Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources


Korean Gas Corporation


Korean Science and Engineering Foundation


liquefied natural gas


Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance


Meat & Livestock Australia


memorandum of understanding


Missile Technology Control Regime


National Asian Languages Studies in Australian Schools


non-government organisations


The National Library of Australia


North West Shelf LNG Pty Ltd


North West Shelf Venture


Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development


Overseas Korean Traders Association


Rim of the Pacific


Republic of Korea


Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies


Rio Tinto Coal Australia


small and medium enterprises


United Nations


United Nations Commission on Korea


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


Vocational Education and Training


Weapons of Mass Destruction


World Trade Organisation

List of recommendations

2 Inter-governmental relations

Recommendation 1

In recognition of the growing importance of the Australia-RoK defence relationship, the Committee suggests that Defence continues to explore opportunities to enhance participation in bilateral defence exercises.

Recommendation 2

At the first opportunity, the Australia–Korea Foundation ensure its board membership includes more members with an intimate knowledge of Korean society and culture.

3 The economic relationship

Recommendation 3

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provide all possible assistance, via organisations such as the Overseas Korean Traders Association, to small businesses exporting or wishing to export to the Republic of Korea.

4 Challenges facing the economic relationship

Recommendation 4

In the event of the Commonwealth Government commencing free trade agreement negotiations with the Republic of Korea, Australian cultural industries (as well as Korean cultural industries) be protected, and issues relating to agriculture be determined at an early stage of negotiations.

6 Education and research

Recommendation 5

Australian Education International create an Internet-based forum for Korean students returning from Australia. Comments on this forum should be regularly reviewed and followed up if necessary with Australian educators.

Recommendation 6

The Department of Education, Science and Training develop a memorandum of understanding with its Republic of Korea counterpart with a view to the mutual recognition of educational qualifications.

Recommendation 7

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs review the risk presented by students from the Republic of Korea who are accompanied by a guardian when they study in Australia. The result should be incorporated into the overall risk assessment for such students.

Recommendation 8

The Department of Education, Science and Training promote school exchange visits between Australia and the RoK through direct funding, or by facilitating sponsorship from non-Commonwealth Government bodies.

Recommendation 9

The Department of Education, Science and Training coordinate a review of the breadth and depth of science and technology research collaboration between Australia and the Republic of Korea with the purpose of providing strategic leadership through the development of an action agenda.

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