Out With the Old: 2 'Down Under' Nations Join Up To Boost Trade"Auld Lang Syne," normally reserved for the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, could be heard throughout the Australian Grill on May 4. A bagpiper piped the traditional tune to mark the end of two associations ?the Australian Business Group and the New Zealand Business Group.
"Auld Lang Syne" usually bids old friends farewell and welcomes the New Year. Likewise on May 4, the song marked an ending and a beginning. The two groups merged to form the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce.
"As 'business groups' we were not taken too seriously, and were often seen more as a social group," joked Rick Borger, the chairman of the new committee. The merger enlarges the group and gives it more clout. Previously, the New Zealand Business Group had 15 to 20 members and the Australian group about 80. The new chamber of commerce now has a membership of more than 100.
It will still schedule a monthly social event; the next is June 15 at the Seoul Club. But as the name suggests, the group's primary focus is business: to promote trade, technology transfer and investments between Australia, New Zealand and Korea. For the united group's first breakfast business meeting last week, members met with the Australian minister of foreign affairs. The next breakfast meeting is June 19 at the Hyatt hotel. Zorica McCarthy, charge d'affaires of the Australian Embassy, will speak about contingency plans for trouble on the Korean Peninsula.
With one month under its belt, the organization is focusing on developing Korea's Australian Alumni Association. There are about 700 professionals in Korea who graduated from Australian schools. The Australian center on the embassy grounds will hold a reception July 27 for Koreans who have studied in Australia.
Until May, the two business communities were separate entities in Korea. In other countries where the Australian and New Zealander business communities are both small, as in Japan, the chamber of commerce convenes jointly. In Korea, the two communities previously had only had a joint social group known as ANZOC － Australia New Zealand Overseas Community.
Membership is open to Australian or New Zealand citizens and to employees of any nationality who work for a company with business ties in Australia or New Zealand. For more information, call 02-545-2484.
by Joe Yong-hee