Ambassador's Message

Ambassador’s Message

It’s a pleasure for me to be back for a third assignment in Korea, a fast-paced, fast-changing country with lots of opportunities for engagement with Canada at all levels, including commercial, cultural, political, academic and people-to-people links.

There are several notable anniversaries this year. From an historical perspective, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the March 1st Movement, an important milestone in Korea’s history and a good time to celebrate Canada’s contribution to Korea’s growth and development in fields such as education and medicine. About 200 Canadians came to Korea as missionaries, scholars, and reporters between 1888 and 1945, and several of them, including Frank Schofield, were rewarded by the Korean government for their efforts to support the Korean independence movement.

2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of Canada’s decision to remove visa requirements for Koreans, and of the launch of Air Canada’s daily flights to Korea, which made things much easier for travelers. Among the visitors who will no doubt use the service in 2019 are dozens of Canadian athletes from several water disciplines, who will gather in Gwangju for the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in July.

Finally, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) turned 4 on January 1. Canada’s exports to Korea in 2018 were 14% higher than in 2017, and 40% higher than in 2014, the year before the CKFTA came into effect. My colleagues and I have undertaken several visits across Canada to raise awareness about the CKFTA and to encourage Canadians to take advantage of the new business opportunities that have emerged over the last four years. Thanks to the CKFTA, as of January 1, 2019, 95% of Canada’s goods exports are eligible for duty-free access into Korea.

Another great recent development for Canada in the wider Asia-Pacific region has been the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 30, 2018. Canada was proud to be among the first six countries to ratify it (with Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore). The CPTPP will create one of the world’s largest trading blocs, with 11 member countries, 495 million people, and a combined GDP of $13.5 billion. Along with the CKFTA, the CPTPP provides a vital platform to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties in the region and strengthen the rules-based international trading system.

An important focus of the Government of Canada over the last few years has been to make international trade policies more progressive and inclusive, in order to ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more broadly shared among Canadians. We put particular emphasis on promoting the benefits of free trade agreements, including the CKFTA and the CPTPP, to small- and medium-sized enterprises and to women-owned and indigenous-owned businesses.

The Embassy’s Trade Commissioner Service is active in providing services to Canadian clients, referring business opportunities to them, promoting opportunities for Korean investment in Canada, and supporting innovation partnerships. Members of CanCham Korea and Canadian companies interested in the Korean market should feel free to contact us to discuss how we support Canadian businesses in this country.