Harper Touts South Korea Free Trade Agreement in Vancouver

Stephen Harper in Burnaby | BCBusiness
Stephen Harper addressed a reception organized by Sharon’s Credit Union, the Korean Society of B.C., the Korean Christian Men’s Business Association and New Gen Group.

Stephen Harper promotes South Korea free trade agreements as industry begin to assess benefits and opportunities

In a short address to around 150 members of Canadian-Korean community at a reception in Burnaby Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper touted the benefits of what he referred to as Canada’s first free trade agreement in Asia.
“[This agreement] will create jobs and opportunities at home and in Korea,” said Harper. “It is particularly important to B.C, because B.C. has strong ties to Asia, abundant natural resources, and the highly skilled and highly educated workforce needed to reap the full bounds.”
Joined by a group of Conservative members of parliament past and present, including Industry Minister James Moore and former minster of international trade Stockwell Day, the prime minister focused as much on cultural ties and shared values as he did on the deal. After his brief, upbeat comments, a queue formed around the stage, as members of the crowd lined up for photo opportunities with Stephen Harper and various government delegates attending. The prime minister did not take questions.
In an address to the B.C. Chamber of Commerce earlier Wednesday, Harper highlighted the benefits the agreements will have on B.C.’s seafood, forestry and oil and gas industries.
Industry Embraces Agreement
Industry organizations in B.C.—some of which sent representatives with Harper to Seoul—support the deal, which will remove 98.2 per cent of tarrifs on Canadian imports, according to the government.  
Agri-food exports will be the first to benefit, according to Joy Nott, president of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters, who accompanied Harper on his trip to Korea.
Tariffs on seafood are currently 20 per cent, said Chris Sporer, executive director of the Seafood Producers Association of BC, in a scrum in Seoul Tuesday. Exports of salmon, herring roe, skate and pollock will all benefit as the tariffs are phased out over the next five to 15 years. American seafood exporters are just beginning to see the benefits of a free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea signed in 2012, said Sporer.
In a statement, Port Metro Vancouver welcomed the agreement, which will “significantly strengthen the trading ties between both countries.” South Korea is the port’s fourth-largest trading partner, and an important destination for exports of thermal and metallurgical coal, wood pulp, lumber and ore.
South Korea is B.C.’s fourth-largest trading partner behind the United States, China and Japan. Exports from B.C. to South Korea were worth an annual average of $2.17 billion from 2010 to 2012. Fifty per cent of Canadian exports to South Korea are from B.C.