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Isle of Man builds connections in South Korea 29 February 2008

THE Isle of Man Government has continued its drive to develop contacts and raise awareness amongst key international audiences by accepting an invitation to attend the high-profile inauguration of the new President of South Korea.

Minister John Shimmin MHK mixed with political and business leaders from all over the world at the swearing-in of Lee Myung-bak in Seoul this week.

Mr Shimmin said:

‘South Korea is a major economic force and the inauguration of the new president was a huge event, with a ceremony attended by 60,000 people including 180 foreign delegates. The Isle of Man’s presence at this top-level gathering was another sign of its rising international identity, and a further opportunity to extend its global network of business and governmental connections.’

Mr Shimmin is Minister for Local Government and Environment but he was in South Korea representing the Isle of Man Government as a whole. There were 45,000 guests at the inauguration ceremony, including foreign workers and tourists and executives of foreign-invested firms in Korea, as well as members of the Korean public. Mr Shimmin also attended the inauguration reception in the National Assembly.

The Minister commented:

‘It certainly was a most impressive occasion and one at which I felt particularly honoured to represent the Isle of Man. With over 60,000 people which equates to nearly 75% of our population, it is perhaps understandable that the inauguration ceremony took place outdoors.’

Mr Shimmin also took the opportunity to undertake a number of meetings around the inauguration, and met with the British Ambassador to South Korea, the Head of UK Trade & Investment, and the Director of the British Council.

He explained:

‘The purpose of my attendance was to raise the Island’s profile with key individuals in Korea, who might be able to help us in our future dealings in the country, and to develop business contacts.’
‘Korea is a country with big plans for growth and further modernisation, and it is clear that it may become a key trading partner in the east for European businesses. President Lee’s plans, referred to as his 747 strategy, envisage 7% annual growth in GDP - $40,000 per capita - to make Korea the world’s seventh largest economy. During the course of my visit I learnt a lot about the country and will be sharing this with my ministerial colleagues and senior officers’.

Mr Shimmin added:

‘It’s always rewarding to tell people about the Isle of Man and I was able to explain our constitutional status as a Crown Dependency to the Ambassador and British officials. It was also an excellent opportunity to discuss our economic and regulatory policies with the Head of UK Trade & Investment.'
‘I was able to provide some background on the Island’s distinct culture and history, as well as educational opportunities for overseas business students, for the Director of the British Council. In addition I was pleased to distribute information packs on the Isle of Man at meetings with expatriate Koreans.’

Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK commented:

‘I am particularly pleased the Isle of Man was represented at such a prestigious occasion. It was encouraging that other meetings could be scheduled around the ceremony, making the visit considerably worthwhile. Raising the Island’s profile and encouraging new business are key objectives of the Isle of Man Government. I am confident that this visit will contribute significantly to our pursuit of these goals as well as making some new and important contacts for the future’.

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