By: Adam Smith, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall recently led a provincial trade mission to South Korea and China from September 17-28. There were numerous stops on this mission including the cities of Seoul, Qingdao, Beijing and Shanghai. The Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) also led a delegation to the region and undertook various events which intersected with the Premier’s mission. The STEP-led delegation included participation from various Saskatchewan exporters, as well as SaskCanola, SaskFlax, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Cereals Canada. The primary goal of the mission was to promote Saskatchewan’s strengths in energy and agriculture, which resonated well with Asian businesses and government alike.
Premier Wall’s visit to South Korea was a historic first by a Saskatchewan Premier. While in South Korea, the Premier met with a number of agri-food companies and associations including the Korea Importers Association, Korea Flour Mills Industrial Association and Korea’s largest retailer E-Mart. The Premier also participated in a breakfast and conference hosted by STEP in Seoul. With the recently implemented Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, there was a great deal of interest in Saskatchewan agriculture and food products. Tariffs will come down over the next few years, meaning our products will be much more competitive in this high-value market.
While in China, the Premier continued to promote Saskatchewan’s interests to one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. This included a keynote address on agriculture and food during a STEP organized event in Qingdao that brought together Saskatchewan industry and Chinese importers of grains, oilseeds and pulses. In Shanghai, Premier Wall helped to open Canada Pork International’s new market development office. This office is the second of its kind and is strategically located to help advance the industry’s interests in the largest pork market in the world.
China, South Korea and the Asia-Pacific region in general represent a tremendous opportunity for almost all of Saskatchewan’s key economic sectors and especially agriculture and energy. This region of the world continues to show growth with increasing populations and rising incomes and needs to seek out suppliers around the world to fill their demands. Saskatchewan will have to continue to engage with these various markets to build relationships and leverage our province’s natural strengths.