Canada and South Korea will sign two agreements to boost trade and cultural ties during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s two-day visit to South Korea this week.
In an interview with Global News, South Korean Ambassador to Canada Lim Woongsoon said Trudeau and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will sign a memorandum of understanding to expand trade with critical minerals and make it easier for young people from both countries to participate in exchanges.
“We are like-minded countries. We share the same values of freedom, human rights and democracy,” Lim said. “There is no geopolitical risk in advancing our partnership.”
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South Korea is turning to Canada for key minerals in a bid to reduce its dependence on China, which provides 80 percent of its supplies. The ambassador believes the cooperation with Canada will help grow Korea’s semiconductor and electric vehicle battery sector, which is the world’s second largest manufacturer.
“Canada could be a very good choice for Korean companies to diversify their supply of critical minerals,” Lim said.
Outside of trade, South Korea will expand access to work holiday programs and create new categories to allow young Canadians to work in Korea. Lim, in turn, says Canada will be “ready to accept more Korean applicants” to Canadian programs.
Canada’s push to boost ties with South Korea is part of the Liberal government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, released last fall.
The strategy aims to promote ties in the region and pledges nearly $2.3 billion in new spending over five years, including for trade and military projects intended to counter a rising China.
South Korea’s own Indo-Pacific strategy also calls for strengthening ties with Canada and other partners in the region.
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The prime minister is expected to be in Seoul between May 16 and May 18, following Yoon’s visit to Ottawa in September.
While in Seoul, Trudeau is expected to attend a ceremony to open the Kapyong Battle Commemorative Trail, intended to honor Canada’s contribution during the Korean War.
He is not expected to visit the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.
Trudeau is then scheduled to attend the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, between May 19 and 21.
The trip comes as Canada seeks to strengthen its relations with Japan and South Korea, which are longtime allies and trading partners.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has said the relationship with each is so natural that Ottawa has sometimes taken it for granted, but that global instability is a time to support those bonds.
“We want to be as close to Korea, Japan as (we are) Germany, France and Great Britain; that is our goal,” Joly said last December.
—With files from the Canadian Press
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