NATIONAL

‘New Zealand, a whole nation of innovation’

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Dec 3, 2018 - 16:51
  • Updated : Dec 3, 2018 - 16:55

New Zealand is pushing the boundaries of innovation as a “country-sized incubator,” and seeking further synergies with Korean small and midsized companies and startups, according to the country’s top envoy to Korea.

“Innovation starts at the edge, and New Zealand is perfectly situated to change the world for the better,” Ambassador Philip Turner said at the 2018 Kiwi Chamber Year-end Grand Hui in Seoul on Thursday. “New Zealand’s place at the edge of the world has bred a unique way of looking at challenges, and driven us to be creative, practical and ready to challenge convention. We’re not the biggest, but we always strive to find new ways to do things. We are a country-sized incubator aiming to lead the way.”

The event showcased Korea and New Zealand’s growing bilateral relationship and opportunities for further collaboration. A “hui” is a traditional Maori social gathering or assembly, and the Grand Hui is hosted annually by the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea and supported by the New Zealand Embassy in Korea.

This year’s event at Grand Hyatt Seoul was attended by Korean actress and New Zealand Cultural Ambassador Ha Ji-won and National Assemblyman Kim Byoung-gwan, both of whom delivered celebratory toasts. It occurred ahead of Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to New Zealand from Monday to Tuesday, where he will meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

From left: New Zealand Ambassador Philip Turner, Korean actress and New Zealand Cultural Ambassador Ha Ji-won, National Assemblyman Kim Byoung-gwan and Kiwi Chamber Chairman Tony Garrett (Kiwi Chamber)

“Our way of working makes us a great partner for collaboration, and like Korea, we move faster and work harder to succeed in global markets,” the envoy said, announcing the launch of the “SEAL” partnership -- a group of New Zealand information and communications technology and manufacturing companies working in Korea on sea, air and land technologies. The group’s products and services include water jets, air analysis and geospatial software.

He also named other innovations by New Zealand, such as the rocket-launched commercial satellite, digital filmmaking, smart farming, food technology and medical engineering.

“We have a tradition of trailblazing. A New Zealander was the first to split the atom, invent the jet boat and disposable syringes,” he said.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Index 2018, New Zealand occupied the top spot out of 190 economies for ease of doing business.

Turning to relations with Korea -- an official diplomatic partner since 1962 -- Turner said the two countries are ramping up collaboration in 4D technology, health robotics, smart agriculture, digital filmmaking and Antarctic research.

The two countries’ goods and services trade has increased 17 percent on-year to $3.2 billion as of June, according to the New Zealand Embassy in Seoul, citing the latest government statistics. From July last year through June, Korean goods exports to New Zealand reached $1.7 billion. That includes petroleum-related exports, which increased 7 percent to over $700 million; as well as Korean automotive exports, which topped $310 million.

During the same period, New Zealand exports to Korea also showed marked growth, with food and beverage shipments going up 6.7 percent to $467 million, and the export of aluminum, iron and steel rising 15 percent to $106 million. Korea is New Zealand’s fifth-largest goods trading partner and an important source of high-quality investment.

Turning to political relations, the diplomat said, the two nations “share deep people-to-people links and work closely together on security matters on the Korean Peninsula.” New Zealand recognized the Republic of Korea as the only legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula through a United Nations resolution in July 1949. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Wellington dispatched over 6,000 troops as part of the UN forces, and 45 New Zealanders made the ultimate sacrifice.

“The New Zealand tech and innovation story is unique and one of ingenious solutions where jobs are done differently by people who think differently,” said Dr. Tony Garrett, chairman of the Kiwi Chamber. “To leverage this, our regular thought leadership series, ‘Inspire with Innovation,’ focuses on New Zealand as a country of business innovators.”

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)