The B.C. Korea Trade & Investment Forum, held June 23-24 in Burnaby B.C., was an opportunity for Canadian and Korean government and business representatives to explore opportunities to strengthen trade and investment.

Following the ratification of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement in January, the occasion showed commitment on both sides to achieve new levels of cooperation than in previous years, this being Canada’s first free-trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, and delegates from the natural resource, power, bioenergy, and technology industries participated in networking events and panel discussions, with the intent to gain insight into and capitalize on the Agreement.

The Agreement’s positive effects on the forest and wood products industries was explored in a dedicated panel session, emceed by FII’s Chief Operating Officer and Interim CEO, Michael Loseth, and moderated by the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the Honourable Steve Thomson.

Discussion highlights included the elimination of tariffs on lumber and value-added products, as well as the high demand in Korea for environmentally friendly wood products. Industry experts spoke to challenges surrounding the Agreement, including the 5-10 year time span required to totally eliminate tariffs on value-added products.

South Korea is already B.C.’s fourth-largest trading partner and export destination. The Government of Canada estimates the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will increase exports to South Korea by 32 per cent.