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Busy days as Korea-EU trade agreement nears

JoongAng Daily, Seoul

Busy days as Korea-EU trade agreement nears

The chamber ‘will support all incoming trade mission events and all matters that arise as a result of the Korea-EU FTA.’

11 April 2011

By Lee Eun-joo

The history of the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea, or the BCCK, dates back to 1977 when seven British businessmen began holding regular meetings to discuss issues about promoting business in Korea. The “group of seven” developed as trade between the two countries increased and later on became the BCCK, with the aim to promote the development of British trade, commerce and investment in Korea and to foster a better understanding between the Korean and British business communities.

The chamber, which currently has around 200 members, 25 percent of whom are Koreans, is operated under an executive committee that comprises representatives from 12 companies as well as two ex-officio members from the British Embassy and the British Council. According to executive committee members, the current British government is as much “focused on trade issues in addition to diplomacy,” which enhances the role of the chamber in Korea. For example, the chamber has been very active (along with the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea) in discussing free trade agreement issues that are scheduled to take effect starting in July. This year, in particular, the chamber “will support all incoming trade mission events” and “all promotional matters in respect of business development activities arising as a result of the introduction of the Korea-EU FTA.”

The chamber is headed by Rob Edwards as chairman, who is also senior vice president of Standard Chartered First Bank Korea. He has been a member of the chamber’s executive committee since 2009 and became chairman in July of the same year. Edwards is an international banker with a wealth of experience, having occupied a number of positions with Standard Chartered in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Helping Edwards is Jonathan Holmes, the chamber’s vice chairman as well as representative director of Korn/Ferry International. He has been a member of the committee since 2002 and became vice chairman in 2004. He joined the London office of Korn/Ferry International in 1993 and moved to Seoul in late 2000 after a short period living in Singapore. Previously, he was posted in Russia to open the operations of Korn/Ferry in 1994 and also ran the company’s Indian business in 1998.

Joe Day, president and representative director of Market Entry Services Co., is serving as vice chairman of the chamber. He did business in Korea in the mid-1970s and has been a resident since the early 1980s as chief executive of Dynacast Korea, a British engineering company, and then Ciba-Geigy and the Elf-Sanofi pharmaceutical ventures.

Douglas Barrett, the chamber’s ex-officio, is first secretary of trade and investment at the British Embassy. He has spent the last 25 years working on Asia-Pacific issues.