Negotiations finally wrapped up yesterday between Australia and South Korea on their recently announced and long-awaited Free Trade Agreement. At Kidscreen’s Asian Animation Summit, taking place in Phuket, Thailand this week, kids content producers, broadcasters and government agencies weighed in on the significance of the deal, which includes an Audiovisual Co-production Agreement for film and television.
Caiya Kang, head of the Korea Creative Content Agency’s (KOCCA) creative industry promotion division for comics, animation, and character licensing business, says the agreement will make it easier for the government sector to co-operate in Korean co-productions with Australia. But because few details of the film and television portion of the treaty have been released, she says how KOCCA will proceed has yet to be determined.
“We haven’t worked out the details in our business plan yet, but the announcement has the industry excited. Korea is Australia’s fourth largest trading partner, so we’ll have to wait to see what happens as more information comes out,” Kang says.
The FTA’s services section on the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website states: An Audiovisual Co-production Agreement will deliver new commercial opportunities for our creative industries – facilitating film and television collaboration.
In statements from Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, results from independent economic modelling show that the overall agreement is expected to give the Australian economy an annual boost of nearly AUD$653 million after 15 years of operation. In addition, overall exports to South Korea could rise by 25%, and the FTA would be worth more than AUD$5 billion in additional income to Australia between 2015 and 2030.
According to Sangho Han, commissioning editor of animation for Korea’s Educational Broadcasting System, the FTA is good news for EBS and the animation industry. “Korean producers and productions want to work with companies from all over the world, so I think the new free trade agreement gives them hope for this. It’s a very good step and I think we’ll see more co-productions as a result,” says Han.
Chris Rose, commissioning editor of animation for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), concurs. “Anything we can do to actually get production and financing flowing between the different countries will obviously make production easier. I also hope that the Australia/Malaysia treaty will be resolved in the not-so-distant future as it’s been ongoing for quite some time,” he says.
From a producer’s perspective, licensing and marketing executive Narae Yeo of Seoul, Korea-based prodco Crazy Bird Animation Studio is looking forward to potential new partnerships. “We’ve worked with Malaysia before and the Korean government is really trying to boost the country’s reputation for high quality animation so maybe we can work with Australia now, too,” she contends.