We had a really productive week on the trade mission to Korea led by Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade. Outside of the regular programme, our CEO Ian McKay and Asia Pacific Centre Director Joan Elangovan were busy renewing relationships with respected and established companies like Samsung and building relationships with many exciting up-and-coming ones.
The trip came after Canada’s first free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific – the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement – went into effect Jan. 1. The CKFTA is projected to increase Canadian merchandise exports to South Korea by over 30 percent and boost Canada’s economy by approximately $1.7 billion, and Vancouver is well-positioned to capitalize on those trends. Through the work done by our Asia Pacific Centre, we have developed close ties to businesses and other stakeholders throughout the region and the federal government-led mission provided us an excellent opportunity to solidify and continue to build those important relationships in a region that is a target market for the VEC.
Highlights included meetings with established companies such as Samsung and Hyundai, which revealed investment plans. Other VEC-arranged business meetings led to a better understanding of the Korean startup landscape, and their efforts to disrupt the traditional way of doing business, long dominated by conglomerates. On a tour with the impressive Seoul Business Agency, a VEC counterpart, we saw how their incubators are supporting startups well-aligned with our key sectors (18 companies are being incubated at their gaming centre and nine at the animation centre).
These and other meetings during the mission were all steps towards achieving our Asia Pacific Centre’s mission – to discover and facilitate opportunities for increased Asian trade, investment and talent attraction to Vancouver. They also reflected the unique way in which our Centre achieves that mission – by first building relationships and trust. We know that these elements, especially in the Asia Pacific, are critical to our work building effective support networks in destination markets and connecting local companies with investors or potential business partners. We’re sure that it will help Vancouver’s Mobify, a rapidly growing mobile e-commerce platform that we were lucky to have join us on this trip, to continue its work helping global retailers and brands deliver exceptional shopping experiences.