I had heard about the Italian government bringing in Korean VIPs to promote its food and wine. The Seoul Times recently published an article on the details of what’s going on.

The article talks more about the upcoming free trade talks with the EU. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • The Korean VIPs were 17 business execs and journalists
  • At the “Cibus 2007 Roma” convention, some Korean execs wanted to sign contracts with Italian producers on the spot
  • There’s no time limit to the Korea-EU FTA talks (unlike the KORUS FTA)
  • Tariffs are higher in the EU on Korean products than they are in the US
  • The article predicts that South Korea may become the leading importer for wine and foodstuffs in East Asia (according to “market watchers”)
  • Korea’s free trade pact with Chile two years ago has made it surpass Japan in Chile’s imports (I didn’t know there was a free trade pact with Chile)
    • That also explains why Chilean wine has been so heavily promoted in the past few years
  • From Captain Obvious: South Korea imports a lot of foreign wine because its domestic wine production is almost non-existent
  • Domestically labeled wine is really bulk wine imported from other countries (read the label)
  • Article claims that the touting of red wine as a health benefit has increased its popularity in Korea, along with
    • Higher incomes
    • “Westernization” of lifestyles
  • Pasta, pasta sauces, and Italian cheeses are already popular in South Korea

This brings me to what I believe to be true: Italian food is universal. In my limited world travels, it has seemed to me that Italian cuisine has been one of the first and most popular “foreign” cuisines in each country.

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