Heading for South Korea19/04/2019

A delegation of Belgian business leaders accompanied King Philippe and Queen Mathilde on a State visit to South Korea. It was a successful trip for some ten Walloon companies.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited Seoul from 24 to 28 March. This State visit had a major economic aspect. The Sovereign was accompanied by business leaders, twenty of whom were from the agri-food sector and preparing to conquer South Korea.

A free trade agreement was concluded between the European Union and South Korea in 2011. Since this agreement came into force, the export of Belgian products, both food and drink, has continued to grow. According to Fevia, South Korea is the fourth largest overseas market for the Belgian agri-food industry.

While Koreans are crazy about confectionery, beer and flour from our flat country, pork meat had to improve its image after the outbreak of African swine fever on our territory. So there was a twofold challenge for the delegation from the agri-food sector. It had to first regain the trust of the Koreans and then diversify the Belgian product offer.

A brewery has signed an agreement (see photo) to export its beers to South Korea. The Brunehaut brewery in Rongy has been brewing since 1890. It recently won the award for "Best gluten-free beer in the world". 70% of its production is exported to 25 countries. Marc Antoine De Mees, head of the brewery, will work with SixOwls under license (same recipe and products as in Belgium) in a brewery in Korea. It will now be possible to buy a Belgian-style craft beer on the Korean market.

Galler Chocolatier has renewed its long-term partnership with GT International to strengthen the brand's presence in Korea.

Other sectors were present during this State visit. Cecoforma, an agency specialising in communication and the organisation of major events, has formalised its contract with event production company Genesis Holdings. The Smurfs will make their first stop on the Asian continent in Seoul and settle in their new village during the immersive exhibition "The Smurf Experience" in June 2019. 

While the State visit resulted in some 30 agreements between Belgium and South Korea, we note that the Belgian sector favoured by Koreans was development and research, with no fewer than 7 agreements. Companies such as Realco, Promethera, Incize and Masthercell, to name but a few, have signed or extended their agreements with Korean companies.

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