Canada and South Korea are set to sign two agreements to strengthen 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 Korea’s Ambassador to Canada Lim Woongsoon said Trudeau and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will sign a memorandum of understanding to expand the trade of critical minerals and make it easier for youth from both countries to participate in exchanges.
“We are like minded countries. We share the same values like freedom, human rights and democracy,” said Lim. “There is no geopolitical risk in fostering our partnership.”
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South Korea is turning to Canada for critical minerals in a bid to reduce their reliance on China, who supplies 80 per cent of their stock. The ambassador believes partnering with Canada will help grow Korea’s semiconductor and electric vehicle battery sector, which is the world’s second largest producer.
“Canada can be a very good choice for Korean companies to diversify their supply of critical minerals,” said Lim.
Outside of trade, South Korea will expand access to work holiday programs and create new categories to allow young Canadians to intern and work in Korea. Lim says in turn, Canada will be “ready to accommodate more Korean applicants” to Canadian programs.
Canada’s push to increase ties with South Korea is a part of the Liberal government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which was released last fall.
The strategy aims to advance ties in the region and promises nearly $2.3 billion in new spending over five years, including for trade and military projects intended to counterbalance 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, after Yoon’s visit to Ottawa in September.
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While in Seoul, Trudeau is expected to attend a ceremony to open the Kapyong Battle Commemorative Trail, meant to honour Canada’s contributions during the Korean War.
He is not expected to visit the demilitarized zone separating 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 attempts to strengthen its relationships 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 at times taken it for granted, but that global instability is a time to shore up these bonds.
“We want to be as close to Korea, to Japan as (we are) to Germany, France and Great Britain; that’s our goal,” Joly said last December.
—With files from the Canadian Press
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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