The Mayor is describing Korea as a major opportunity for export-focused Auckland businesses and wants Auckland to look to Korea as an example of successful strategic economic development.
Len Brown is leading 17 Auckland businesses on a trade mission to Korea and Taiwan. In Korea, the delegation visited Auckland's partner cities of Busan and Pohang, and the economic powerhouse, Seoul.
He says Korea's rapid transition from a rural country with few natural resources to a high tech and prosperous urban society has lessons Auckland can learn from.
"Korea has a clear plan for the nation's economic prosperity. Central and local government, business, academia and community sectors are all committed to delivering it.
"There is a strong national will to succeed despite obstacles like not having a lot of natural resources. Big factors in that success are the strong focus on research and development, and local and central government being prepared to significantly invest in economic development to achieve national prosperity.
"Korea has a joined up and holistic approach to that prosperity - we've seen a local and central government-funded digital content hub that measures its success by the number of local jobs created, an online and mobile gaming company focused on creating high value, high skilled jobs for people with disabilities, and research on how technology can improve life for the elderly."
The Mayor's ability to open doors to key decision makers along with the determination of the Auckland business delegates and the collaboration between Auckland Council, ATEED, the NZ Embassy and NZ Trade and Enterprise in Korea has been described as a winning combination by the chair of the council's Economic Forum , Cr Arthur Anae, who was with the mission in Korea.
"Investment in trade missions leads directly to generating jobs for Aucklanders, more foreign direct investment and export opportunities for our companies. Alrite International is just one example of how our Auckland companies are working hard to make the most of opportunities like this."
Bhaskar Sharma is CEO and Managing Director of Alrite International Ltd and he's been pursuing business opportunities in Korea for 18 years.
"I know how difficult it is to get meetings with key players in Korea," says Mr Sharma. "You need to work through second and third parties. On this trade mission, I not only got a meeting but an agreement. As a direct result, I will be taking on more employees in Auckland and increasing our exports from Auckland into the Pacific."
The trade mission coincided with the Busan International Film Festival, in which Film Auckland is closely involved. The Auckland Council controlled agency has been active in facilitating joint opportunities in the Auckland and Korean film, animation and gaming sectors for many years, and is following up a number of potential projects to come out of the Busan film events.
Len Brown says Korea is reaping the benefits of significant investment in infrastructure, and is now turning its efforts to arts and cultural development as well as continuing its strong focus on R&D.
"We're here to say to the world that Auckland is open for business. We want to leverage Auckland's high value export opportunities through our partner city relationships in Korea, China and Japan.
"Our partner cities in Korea are harbour cities, manufacturing hubs with strong entrepreneurial spirits and innovative, high-tech hearts. Our companies and research institutes are already collaborating in areas such as nanotechnology, robotics, photonics, gaming, animation, and 3D conversion. There is further potential to work closely with Korean partners on aquaculture and marine projects, and many other areas."
The delegation is now in Taiwan, visiting Auckland's partner city of Taichung and the economic centres of Taipei and New Taipei before returning home on Friday.