Western Australia and South Korea – Exploring Opportunities for Engagement.


Following the official signing of the MOU between the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Australia-Korea Business Council in Western Australia (WA), we wanted to share an introduction of WA and the Government of Western Australia Office in Korea with our members.


Western Australia is located in west of Australia and covers an area of 2.5 million square kilometres, about one third of the continent. It is about 25 times the size of South Korea.

Western Australia accounted for 43% of Australia’s merchandise exports, 16% of Australia’s business investment, 61% of Australia’s minerals exploration expenditure and 58% of Australia’s petroleum exploration expenditure in 2018-19.

Minerals and petroleum accounted for 94% (A$152.2b) and Agriculture, food, fibre, fisheries & forestry accounted for 5% ($8.5b) of total merchandise exports in 2018-19. Iron ore accounted for 54% of minerals and petroleum sales in 2018-19, followed by; LNG(20%), Gold(8%), Alumina and bauxite(6%), Condensate(4%), Nickel(2%), Crude oil(1%), base metals(1%), Natural gas(1%), Lithium(1%), and LPG(0.2%).

Western Australia’s largest export market in 2018-19 was China ($81.4b or 50%), followed by Japan ($24.1b or 15%), South Korea ($9.3b or 6%), Singapore ($7.0b), UK ($5b), Hong Kong ($4.1b), Taiwan ($3.6b) and Thailand ($2.7b).

South Korea is the 3rd largest trading partner of Western Australia, with bilateral trade valued at $9.3b and 8$.6b of export volume in 2018-19. Western Australia accounted for 37.5% of Australia’s merchandise exports to South Korea at the same period of time. Top five export commodities to Korea are Iron ore ($4.5b or 48.4%), Confidential items consisting of base metals, nickel and petroleum ($2.9b or 31.6), Petroleum ($464m or 5%), Wheat ($398m or 4.3) and precious metals ($272m or 2.9%).

The Government of Western Australia (GoWA) office in Seoul was established in 2004 with aim to connect WA businesses and Korean investors to opportunities in South Korea and Western Australia, and we have been enthusiastic supporter of AustCham Korea since the Chamber’s establishment. Our office focus on following industrial sectors;


South Korea ranks as one of the top ranking energy importers in the world, and Western Australia supplies many of critical energy and critical materials to fuel many of Korean industries. Recently we, both parties have been working closely together to develop mineral resources and core materials, such as secondary battery, ESS, fuel cell and hydrogen energy to lead the era of the fourth industrial revolution.


GoWA office Korea provides dedicated services to potential and existing agrifood exporters to assist in increasing the State’s exports and facilitate investment in the sector. Exporting up to 80% of its agricultural production, Western Australia is an important producer and supplier of safe, high-quality and functional agri-food and fishery products in the Korean market with following items;

  • Wheat / barley for making beer / lupin / oaten hay / sweet corn / chia
  • Beef / lamb / mutton / emu / kangaroo
  • Cream and milk products
  • Brussel sprout / truffle / grape / orange / functional crops
  • Wine and beverage
  • Honey / Jarrah honey / Pet food / aquaculture product
  • Lobster / scallops / octopus / prawn


South Korea was the seventh largest source of international students for Western Australia in 2017, with 1,974 South Korean student enrolments with following activities;

  • University of Western Australia (UWA) hosted a forum with Sungkyunkwan (SKK) University to explore research and teaching partnerships.
  • UWA offers Korean language studies at undergraduate level.
  • Curtin University has partnership agreements with Yonsei University; Chonnam National University; Inha University; and Seoul National University.
  • Edith Cowan University has established an exchange partnership agreement with Kyungpook University in Daegu.
  • Murdoch University has agreements with Yonsei and Konkuk Universities.
  • Notre Dame offers study abroad opportunities to its partners, Sogang University and the Catholic University of Korea.
  • Professional training programs – KEMREP and UWA/Curtin Univ.
  • VET programs – TAFE and college skilled training program connected to HRD Korea
  • Study Camp program – Sister cities/province and Schools

And for tourism the South Korean market was Western Australia’s 9th largest international market, in terms of visitor numbers and expenditure, in year ending September 2018, having 12,400 South Koreans visiting Western Australia for that period spending a total of $66 million.

Emerging sectors

  • Asian Engagement (culture, sports, and sister city relationship)
  • Clean energy and technology
  • ICT/Digital Economy
  • Health and Innovation
  • Autonomous / Robotics / RCT(Remote Control Tech)
  • Defence

Interested in engaging with WA businesses or contacting the local government?

Reach out to Jean Ough, Commissioner of the Government of Western Australia in Korea and AustCham Korea’s long-standing Board Member and Treasurer, on jean.ough@jtsi.wa.gov.au or email the AKBCWA on info@akbcwa.org for more details.