Monday, 28 May 2012
South Korea: Visit of Transport Minister Mike Penning MP – May 2012
British Embassy Seoul
A visit which advanced our trade and investment objectives in South Korea, including promoting third country work, and helped us engage business outside Seoul.
Mike Penning MP visited Korea from 13 to 16 May accompanied by DfT officials and representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Vehicle Certification Agency.
Mr Penning met Joo Sung-ho, Vice Minister for Transport, Logistics and Maritime Affairs, and Dr Young Soo-gil, Chair of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth.
Dr Young said South Korea was aggressively pursuing opportunities in clean energy and environmental technology to create new sources of economic growth. Young welcomed the UK’s decision to join the Global Green Growth Institute, and was keen for UK involvement in its Green Technology Centre which aimed to promote green technology co-operation with developing countries.
UK companies in Korea
Six UK companies resident in Korea briefed the Minister over lunch on their successes to date, the wide range of opportunities for future business in transport and the challenges.
In the auto sector, MIRA has development projects with a variety of clients including Hyundai KIA and ADD (defence-related). Jaguar Land Rover’s sales are up significantly this year buoyed by the gradual elimination of the 8% import tariff under the EU-Korea FTA.
VCA were able to engage key customers at a meeting at the Residence. Hyundai KIA wants to use the VCA for its operations in Brazil and the wider Latin American market, once VCA completes relevant registration processes. At a visit to Hyundai KIA’s hugely impressive R&D centre, the Minister promoted links with UK researchers and was able to test drive a range of low-carbon vehicles under development.
Shipping and maritime
Calls on the shipyards of Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan and Samsung Heavy Industries on Geoje Island confirmed that the shipping market was currently depressed. Order books only went to mid-2014. But Evergreen from Taiwan had placed a large order. Mr Penning expressed his hope that some of the Evergreen fleet would sail under the British Merchant flag. The Minister encouraged Hyundai to get closer to Rolls Royce, highlighting the unique expertise that UK law firms could provide such Korean companies.
At the Korea Railroad Institute (KRRI), President Hong Soon-Man briefed on future plans for high speed rail in Korea. He demonstrated models showing that investment in high speed rail is repaid in increased passenger numbers and revenue (“speed makes money”). The Minister asked that DfT host President Hong in the UK in September (after he visits Innotrans in Germany). KRRI agreed to hold the 10th UKTI-KRRI rail seminar on third country partnerships – Singapore is a possible venue. The Minister also saw KRRI’s impressive R&D centre.
The Minister met reporters from Korea’s major English-language newspapers. The Minister was asked about the transport infrastructure in place for the Olympics, environmentally-friendly transport in the UK and the aims of his visit to Korea. Both papers printed articles focusing on the UK’s desire to work with Korea.
A worthwhile visit that covered a wide range of transportation issues. The Koreans are interested and credible potential investors in HS2. Hong’s visit in September will be an important opportunity for UK experts to learn more about the Korean technology, which aims to introduce a 500kmph service by the end of the decade. We should consider how to involve Korean industry in the visit too.
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