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ECCT visit to Korea

An ECCT delegation travelled to Seoul, South Korea to visit the chamber’s counterpart, the European Chamber of Commerce Korea (ECCK). Over the course of two days, the delegation held a series of meetings with representatives from the chamber’s secretariat, board of directors and committees, as well as the EU Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea, local industry associations and the Taipei Mission in Korea (Taiwan’s representative office in Korea). During the trip delegates from both chambers exchanged information and best practices on their respective chambers’ advocacy issues, activities and the business climate in their respective countries.

The visit was part of the ECCT’s ongoing interactions with other European chambers in the region. Regional trips are usually held once a year, although no trips were arranged from 2020-2022 due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The ECCT visited the following European chambers that are part of the European Business Organisations Worldwide Network (EBO) in previous years: The Philippines in 2023, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in 2019, Beijing in China in 2018, Laos in 2017, Myanmar in 2016, Thailand in 2015, Indonesia in 2014, Vietnam in 2013, South Korea in 2012, Beijing in 2011 and Shanghai in 2010.


ECCT delegation

  • Giuseppe Izzo, Chairman & Managing Director, Taiwan & Vice President, Asia Pacific Region, STMicroelectronics Ltd.
  • Freddie Höglund, CEO
  • Alex Robertson, Director & Country Manager & Vice President, Vestas Offshore
  • Wind Taiwan Ltd.
  • Don Yang, Wind Energy Committee Co-chair & Commercial Manager, Boskalis
  • Offshore International B.V. Taiwan Branch
  • Jason Ho, Education Committee Co-chair & President & CEO, Taipei Language
  • Institute
  • Duncan Levine, Publications Editor

ECCK delegation

  • Philippe Van Hoof, Chairman
  • Stefan Ernst, President (equivalent to CEO)
  • David T Yoo, Director & Co-CEO, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CiP)
  • Erik Roelans, Director & CEO, ER – Marine
  • Johan Vandromme, Trustee
  • Bo Sun Kim, Vice President
  • Go Young Moon, Chair, Energy & Environment Committee & Head of Partnership & Transition Korea, RWE Renewables Korea
  • Hyokyung Suh, Head of Committee Operations / Director
  • Ansoon Park, Director, Cosmetics & Healthcare Committees
  • Geumchae Noh, Senior Manager, Finance & Administration
  • Hyewon Shim, Senior Manager, Marketing & Event Management
  • Hyewon Shin, Assistant Manager, Energy & Environment, Sustainability, Tourism Committees

The ECCK has 393 members from 32 countries. The chamber hosts 47 events annually. Last year the chamber held over 180 committee meetings and 120 meetings with government (including government ministers) and 34 meetings with the EU Delegation. It publishes annual White Papers. Its most recent White Paper (published in September 2023) has 100 issues. Meetings with the government were held in October 2023 and feedback received in the first quarter of 2024. The chamber has 16 committees. A chamber representative was also invited to a small closed-door meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen when she visited Korea in 2023. The chamber also cooperates with local industry associations, including drafting and issuing joint opinions and advocacy positions. Last year five forums were held on topics such as HR, future development of young entrepreneurs, tax as well as conferences on alternative investment, IPR and automotive topics.

The ECCT delegation held a meeting with Christophe Besse, Minister Counsellor, Head of Trade Section and Jorg Weberndorfer, Minister Counsellor, Trade Section, to learn about the EU’s activities in South Korea. The EU Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea (the EU’s official representative office) has 27 staffers, headed by an ambassador, engaged in trade, political and other exchanges. There is frequent bilateral institutional dialogue following the 2011 EU-Korea FTA, about half of which is related to trade.

South Korea is the EU's 9th largest export destination for goods, whereas the EU is Korea's 3rd largest export market, after the United States and China. Bilateral trade between the EU and Korea remains highly concentrated in the industrial sectors, including machinery and appliances, transport equipment and chemicals. Korea has a modest trade surplus with the EU overall.

South Korea has ambitious goals for wind energy but has a long way to go to meet them. While there are limited local content requirements, the main challenges are a lengthy permitting process, a lack of grid infrastructure in western South Korea and a lack of clear guidelines on stakeholder engagement.

The trip agenda concluded with a friendly meeting with Representative David Liang and colleagues at the office of the Taipei Mission in Korea. After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, South Korea maintained relations with Taiwan but diplomatic relations between Taiwan and South Korea were terminated on 23 August 1992, followed by South Korean recognition of the People's Republic of China and formation of bilateral recognition between them. However, in recognition of the importance of maintaining good relations, representatives from Taiwan and Korea set up missions in their respective countries and granted diplomatic immunity to their respective representatives. In addition to the mission in Seoul, Taiwan set up an office in Busan in 2005. According to Liang, there are 2,600 Taiwanese students in Korea and 2,000 Korean students in Taiwan. Bilateral trade volume in 2023 was around US$46 billion (US$28 billion in Korean exports to Taiwan and US$18 billion in Taiwan exports to Korea). Taiwan has invested only about US$2.9 billion in Korea (mostly in banks and ICT). Taiwan and Korea have signed a double taxation agreement, which became effective on 1 January 2024. They have also agreed to judicial cooperation.