SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA — Gerry Ritz, Canada’s minister of agriculture and agri-food, said on March 14 that he plans to lead a large delegation of agriculture groups on a trade mission to South Korea in April.

Canada and South Korea announced on March 11 that they have concluded negotiations on a new free trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations.

The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will make Canadian exports more competitive in the South Korean market by levelling the playing field for Saskatchewan businesses that are competing against exporters from countries that already have preferential access, Ritz said. Saskatchewan stands to benefit significantly from preferred access to the South Korean market.

Saskatchewan’s agricultural exports to South Korea were worth an annual average of C$149.5 million from 2010 to 2012, and were led by wheat, canola oil, un-roasted barley malt, animal feed, rye and pork. The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 86.8% of agricultural tariff lines, including rates of up to 30% on pork and pork products.

The agreement is Canada’s first free trade agreement in Asia

“Our government is committed to expanding trade with new and emerging markets in Asia to benefit Canadian workers, businesses and industries across the country,” said Ed Fast, minister of international trade. “The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement demonstrates our commitment to giving Canadian investors and exporters the tools they need to compete—and win—in the global marketplace.”