Although the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Republic of Korea was celebrated last year, bilateral trade relations only began to develop with the industrialization of Korea, the opening of the Canadian Embassy in Seoul in 1973 and the arrival of The first Canadian-based Trade Commissioner, Robert Lee. (The last Canadian aid – dairy cattle – went to Korea in 1972.) In the early years, Canada exported microwave telecommunications equipment, wheat, flour, potash and coking coal, as well as various raw and semi-processed materials. According to Lee, the 1975 sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited`s Candu nuclear power plant to the Korea Electric Company was a great success in the face of intense competition from the United States and France. Korea exported to Canada, such as clothing and textiles, canned mushrooms, plywood, steel, bicycles, sporting goods, televisions, radios, shoes, games and toys. On June 12, 2014, South Korean Deputy Trade Minister Kyong-Lim Choi and his Canadian counterpart Ian Burney, Assistant Minister for Trade Agreements and Negotiations, signed the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) in Seoul. According to media reports, this initialization is considered the last step before the signing of the free trade agreement, as it indicates that the agreement has been subject to legal review and will not be subject to any further changes. According to South Korea`s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the two sides have agreed to sign the agreement by the end of the year. After the signing, the CKFTA should be ratified and enter into force as soon as possible. Second, exchanges between citizens between Canada and Korea will continue to flourish, with the enrichment of human capital. Today, more than 200,000 Koreans live in Canada and 25,000 Canadians in Korea.
More than one million people travel between Canada and Korea each year. As discussed at the 3rd Canada-Korea Dialogue on the Hill, approximately 20,000 Korean students study in Canada, making it the third largest student population in the country and contributing more than 700 million CAD to the Canadian economy. Korea`s Ambassador to Canada, Cho Hee-Yong, said, “Koreans are investing their most valuable resource — their children — in Canada and its education system.” In addition to the growing Canadian-Korean community, many of Korea`s top international students decide to stay in Canada at the end of their degree through programs such as the Provincial Nominee Program.