Senior government officials encouraged delegates to take advantage of new business opportunities
The B.C.-Korea Trade and Investment Forum on June 23, 2015 drew a capacity crowd of 350 business and government leaders from the Republic of Korea and British Columbia to explore economic and business opportunities created by the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), in effect since Jan. 1, 2015.
South Korea is British Columbia’s fourth largest trading partner and export destination, and over 50% of Canada’s exports to South Korea originate from B.C. Through the CKFTA, producers, exporters and consumers in B.C. and Korea stand to benefit from the removal of trade tariffs. Nearly 82% of Canada’s current exports to Korea are now duty-free, while 76% of Korea’s exports to Canada are duty-free. Over time, virtually all bilateral trade will become duty-free.
Hosted by British Columbia, the highly successful event served to facilitate new trade and investment partnerships and trade policy discussions. “Today is an opportunity… to seize the momentum of the CKFTA and to lay the foundation for future economic opportunities” declared Premier Christy Clark in her welcome address. B.C. is already seeing positive results from the CKFTA, with agrifoods exports to South Korea going up 79%, and seafood exports rising 150% compared to the same quarter last year. B.C. and Canadian biomass exporters could also see a rise in exports, as Korea currently imports 98% of its energy.
The sold-out event featured a plenary session titled “The Opportunity is Now” where Canada’s Minister of International Trade Ed Fast highlighted the benefits of the agreement and its significance for businesses as a stepping stone into the larger Asian market. In this session Rob Bakshi, CEO of Apivio Systems Inc.
, shared the secrets of how his Richmond-based company has benefited from its roots in the Korean marketplace – selling over four million phones since 2003.
Businesses looking to access the Korean market benefited from listening to a panel of experts at the “Doing Business in Korea” session, where experts presented on the legal, taxation, immigration and business environment in the $1.26 trillion economy. With the CKFTA, B.C. exporters and providers of services have greater and more predictable access to the South Korean market.
The forum also featured concurrent panel discussions focused on key economic sectors that are expected to benefit the most from the agreement: agrifoods/seafood, bioenergy
, technology and natural resources. Participants in these sessions deepened their understanding of industry-specific opportunities and challenges, including the intricacies of consumer preferences and demands.
Business-to-business meetings were also arranged between some B.C. technology companies and the LG Technology Centre of America, the North American research and development arm of LG Electronics, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies. With the support of the B.C. Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) B.C. companies had the opportunity to pitch their products in hopes to secure partnerships or funding.
The B.C. Government is eager to help businesses take advantage of the many opportunities now available under the CKFTA. Contact our market specialists in Vancouver