Wednesday, May 20, 2015

News: Rotherham hoping for Korea boost

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Officials from South Korea have been on a trade visit to Rotherham this week, the first time a business delegation led by a representative of the South Korean government has visited a British region outside London.

The 30-strong group is in Rotherham and Sheffield and is led by Mr Han Junghwa, who heads the Republic of Korea's (RoK) Small and Medium Business Administration, a government department with a £4.7bn budget. It is hoped the visit to Yorkshire could lead to more two-way trade and investment in the UK.

Trade between the two countries in 2014 totalled £8.4bn, 21% up on 2013. The UK is now South Korea's second-largest trading partner among EU countries. Exports of UK goods increased 82 per cent year-on-year in 2012, making South Korea the single largest growth market for UK exports. The country's SME sector generates some £63.3bn-worth of exports a year.

The high-profile event is a success conceived and delivered by INKE, the International Network of Korean Entrepreneurs – with 1,500 member companies in 49 countries worldwide – and the Rotherham-based chairman of its UK chapter, Dabriel Choi.

Main support for the visit is from Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO) and the University of Sheffield. RiDO – the regeneration arm of the Council – had previously helped Mr. Choi locate his trade-and-investment support company, TRoom, in Rotherham.

Earlier this year it was announced that South Korean multinational KD Navien had chosen Rotherham for its UK HQ. The leading manufacturer of condensing boilers also plans to open training centres and a research and development (R&D) facility in the Sheffield city region. It was entering lease negotiations following a visit to a number of sites in the region and was looking to set up temporarily for the first two years. The potential is to relocate to the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham.

Mr Choi, managing director of TRoom, said: "This is a massively significant visit, all the more so because it is led by Mr Han, whose role is equivalent in the UK to the most senior departmental civil servant, Permanent Secretary.

"A major attraction for the delegation is Rotherham's Advanced Manufacturing Park and the thrust of advanced manufacturing within Sheffield City Region.

"The visit will raise South Yorkshire's profile in South Korea as a manufacturing base and introduce innovative, entrepreneurial Korean companies to the region to create mutually advantageous co-operation."

Cllr. Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, added: "Our South Korean visitors are aware of advanced manufacturing here and our proposed Innovation District – a cluster of hi-tech firms in the Sheffield City Region. They want to talk to companies they could partner and we're showing them we are supportive and active in bringing investment and quality long-term jobs into the region."

Tim O'Connell, business and retail investment manager at RiDO, added: "We want to build a relationship with South Korea and get on the radar of investors – show them we have a strong manufacturing supply chain and that we're well positioned for those wanting to get into the European market."

RiDO website

Images: Harworth Estates

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