Canada Wants Free Trade Agreement with Korea

October 15, 2013

By Kim Da-ye

Canada is actively seeking a free trade agreement with Korea, its natural resources minister said Monday.

“We have had a long productive commercial relationship,” said Joe Oliver in an interview with The Korea Times. “We want it to continue and we want it to blossom. We need a free trade agreement to do that, and we have made that well known to the Korean government.” This year, Korea and Canada celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations. Oliver said that he hopes that a “breakthrough” in the relationship will be made within this year, referring to the trade agreement.

President Park Geun-hye and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met last week during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit on Bali, Indonesia. In separately held bilateral talks, the two leaders are said to have agreed to make efforts to reach an agreement on free trade within this year. Korea and Canada had a series of negotiations on a trade deal in the past, but did not make much progress.

The Canadian minister arrived in Korea, Sunday, to attend the World Energy Congress in Daegu and meet Korean government and energy industry representatives to promote Canada’s vast natural resources and attract investment.Oliver said that with the discovery of shale gas, the United States, which imports most of Canada’s gas and oil exports, won’t need much of this resource any longer, and is in fact rapidly becoming the country’s competitor. With this in mind, Canada has to diversify the countries it trades with, especially high-growth countries in Asia including Korea, he said.

“There is a great complementarity between our two countries,” Harper said. “Because Korea needs to import 97 percent of its energy, it has long-term strategic needs to diversify reliable sources of energy, and we have a strategic need to diversify our markets because 100 percent of our gas exports and 99 percent of our oil exports go to the United States.”