A mission that saw 54 participating Italian companies, 8 trade associations and chambers of commerce and 7 banks, and over 300 meetings with 139 Korean companies. These are some of the statistics from the system-level Italian mission to Korea that took place from 20 to 24 November 2011. The mission was promoted by Confindustria (the Italian employers’ federation), the Italian Banking Association (ABI), the Ministry for Economic Development (MiSE) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA). It took the form of seminars, workshops, B2B meetings and institutional events, as well as visits to important representations of Korean industry. This was the first structured initiative, with a broad-ranging business representation in Korea, by the Italian economic system since the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force. The mission took place during a period of keen interest in Italy on the part of the media and the international economic community.
The opening event, the Italy-Korea Forum, attracted over 300 entrepreneurs (about 120 of them Italian) and representatives of Korean companies. The workshop on “Doing Business in Korea” and the four technical seminars saw similar levels of participation.
Of particular importance was the seminar organised by ABI and the Korea Federation of Banks. The presentations demonstrated that, even in these difficult times, Korea can interact with a country with a substantial manufacturing base (second European exporter). The only one, moreover, where the financial institutions did not require government intervention during the recent global financial crisis.
Korea’s strong relationship with Italy and the timing of this “system” mission to the country were a common theme in all of the presentations by Korean guests at the events. The mission provided Confindustria and ABI with an opportunity to re-state, in the presence of a large Korean business audience and the national press, the soundness of our industries and of our economic fundamentals. It was also an occasion to underscore our companies’ determination to exploit the opportunities opened up by the entry into force of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Indeed, the FTA opens not just the Korean market but also the rest of Asia to Italian enterprises.
The Forum concluded with a ceremony to sign two important commercial agreements. One, by the Marcegaglia Group, envisages a 250-million-dollar steel purchase contract with Posco and Daewoo and the other, by FAAM and Daelim Battery, the distribution of batteries for environmental technologies for this market. A third Italian company, the Tosoni Group’s FAR Systems, signed a joint venture agreement with Korea’s Hyundai Elevators to operate jointly on the European mobility infrastructure market.
Three agreements that testify to the fact that investing in Korea through joint ventures and collaboration agreements is strategic to operating in third-party markets such as Asia or Europe itself.