A visit to South Korea this week provided an opportunity for Premier John Horgan to promote the importance of government and business relationships for both the Korean and B.C. economies.
“Trade between B.C. and South Korea is important to our province’s economy, and ultimately job creation in B.C.,” said Premier Horgan. “We’re meeting face-to-face with our partners in South Korea to encourage further business relationships, and to strengthen the economic and cultural ties we already share.”
The focus of the Premier's successful first visit to South Korea was to strengthen relationships in priority markets for a number of B.C.’s key economic sectors. The Premier, along with Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, and George Chow, Minister of State for Trade, met with key South Korean government and business leaders to showcase B.C.’s strengths in technology and innovation, energy, natural resources and agrifoods.
“We’ve had the opportunity to meet with leading players in the Korean technology and natural resource sectors. Through the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, we are working to open new markets for B.C. producers of agrifoods, seafood, natural resources, technology and forest products,” said Ralston. “The discussions in South Korea have been very positive, and we look forward to growing trade and investment with B.C.'s fourth-largest trading partner.”
Premier Horgan and Ralston also visited Netmarble, Korea’s largest social-gaming company. Netmarble confirmed that its Vancouver subsidiary, Kabam, will expand studio space to create new jobs in the growing B.C. tech sector.
“South Korea is becoming an increasingly important economic partner to B.C.,” said Chow. “This trip is playing an important role in raising B.C.’s profile in South Korea, and in building the types of partnerships that can make a real difference to small and large B.C. businesses.”
One of the virtual partnerships of note was the launch of a B.C. agrifoods marketing promotion on the Korea-based Coupang e-commerce website. Coupang has the largest customer base in the South Korean e-commerce market, with more than 28 million users. During the BC Partnerships luncheon, Premier Horgan helped launch the Coupang marketing promotion, where 23 B.C. agrifoods companies will list more than 100 products. The e-commerce market in South Korea was worth $41 billion in 2015, representing nearly 11% of total retail market share.
Another highlight of the trip to South Korea was the recognition of the 10th anniversary of the B.C.-Gyeonggi sister-province relationship. Gyeonggi is Korea's leading technology province, and shares many mutual bilateral objectives with British Columbia. To support this relationship, Premier Horgan and Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil have signed a renewed three-year economic action plan, enhancing co-operation in the areas of digital media, information and communications technology/wireless technology, agrifoods, wood products and low-carbon construction, and tourism.
Following the signing of the three-year action plan, a collaboration agreement was signed between DigiBC and the head of the Gyeonggi Content Agency, which will support the growth of the digital media sector in B.C. and Gyeonggi.
The events in South Korea follow activities that have taken place over the past few days in China as part of government’s first business trip to Asia. The Premier and ministers will be in Japan for the next three days before returning to B.C. on Jan. 30, 2018.
- Canada and South Korea share a thriving, two-way trade relationship totalling billions every year — particularly in the natural resource sector, agrifoods and seafood, international education, technology and tourism.
- B.C. goods exports to South Korea were $2.2 billion in 2016, accounting for 51% of total Canadian exports to Korea.
- The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which took effect in 2015, is offering new opportunities to B.C. companies looking to enter the South Korean market.
- South Korea is B.C.’s fourth-largest goods export market and Canada’s third-largest trading partner in Asia.