Canada: Making FTAs Work: The Canada-Korea Example

Last Updated: October 14 2015
Article by Len Edwards

Signing a free trade agreement does not guarantee opportunities fall into place. The Canada-Korea partnership — designated "strategic" — requires innovation, not complacency.

A year ago this month, amid much fanfare during the state visit to Ottawa by Korea's President Park Geun-hye, Canadian and Korean governments signed the long-anticipated Canada Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), following eight years of on-off negotiations. It came into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Park also announced the elevation of the Korea-Canada relationship to that of a "Strategic Partnership." Not only did it register the expectation that the trade pact would open a major new chapter of growth in our economic ties, but that it would have a "halo effect" in stimulating a deepening of relations across the board.

Earlier this month, at an annual forum hosted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), 40 or so Koreans and Canadians met to take stock of the FTA's early impact and to consider what the notion of Strategic Partnership should mean for the road ahead.

Among the several conclusions reached at the forum, one in particular stood out: that taking Korea-Canada relations to these ambitious new levels would depend primarily on energetic and proactive approaches by business and government, driven by innovative ideas and leadership.

While some observers might think that FTAs are "switch on and go" propositions, they are not. Governments need time to implement the changes. Businesses need time to evaluate and respond to the new opportunities. Adding to the CKFTA mix, international economic conditions this year have not been conducive to growth in global trade generally.

It is not surprising, therefore, that with some happy exceptions — such as in some Canadian agriculture and food products that have benefited from immediate tariff cuts — we have seen an overall drop in two-way trade since the FTA came into force, but less fall off in those areas benefiting from improved terms of access.

We need to be patient. It's the longer term that counts, particularly in Asia where relationships and trust underpin business success.

The real danger is complacency: that governments and business will assume things will automatically now fall into place.

Governments need to be very active in the critical "launch" phase of the FTA. They need to inform and encourage businesses — large and small — to explore the new opportunities, to raise advocacy efforts in the market, to put in place complementary sectorial initiatives and agreements (for instance, negotiations on a Science and Technology Agreement have recently been concluded) and to pursue a full court press of high level economic and trade missions.

Some of this is now underway, but much more is necessary, sustained over an extended two-to-three year period. This is the approach that the United States and Australia have adopted following their FTAs with Korea. We cannot be left further behind.

In the end, however, the success of the CKFTA will depend on the energy, efforts, skill and commitment that businesses on both sides bring to bear in taking advantage of the business opportunities that have been created.

Building commitment, trust and chemistry

As with our Free Trade Agreement, we must not let complacency take charge of our efforts to implement the broader Strategic Partnership — arguably the tougher long-term task. We must not let a lack of ideas and innovation frustrate our realizing the extraordinary potential that this measure puts on offer.

What does this Strategic Partnership mean? A lot. It means that our governments have agreed that Korea and Canada should be in each other's top tier of global partners.

To get there, however, we must achieve greater depth in our economic, political, and people-to-people ties. While we have done well over the past decades leading to this moment, the relationship has over the past few years plateaued in terms of intensity and growth. We now have a chance to move it forward again.

Korea's rise to the status of a developed nation also opens rich new vistas for international cooperation with Canada. We share similarities in terms of global power, economic position, and a deep commitment to democratic governance. We both strive to promote a peaceful, prosperous and stable regional and international order.

Designating the Canada-Korea relationship as a Strategic Partnership is a statement of high ambition.

It means going beyond the largely transactional relationship of the present towards one where the issues of the day are subsumed in a broader strategic framework and where coordination and relationships are nurtured across the broad spectrum of shared interests.

If you look at what other countries, including our competitors, do with their strategic partnerships, you will see that they engage their leaders in these relationships. They build commitment, trust and, for the lack of a better word, a kind of intangible "chemistry" that sustains and drives forward movement and helps deal with the difficulties that inevitably arise, especially from more intense economic engagement.

The Canada-Korea Strategic Partnership will take time to build. A starting point would be to create innovative mechanisms appropriate to the new partnership that would bring more leading figures into the mix, build habits of interchange, cement relationships — mechanisms that over time would help create this "chemistry."

A small bilateral business council led by a prominent business figure from each side and involving CEOs and senior executives would be one such innovation, especially timely as the FTA comes into force. A Ministerial Committee to oversee the governmental approach to the trade and economic relationship would also be very timely. Ideally the two should meet in parallel, and include a joint session.

Annual Foreign and Defense Minister ("2Plus2") consultations (such as the Australians have with Korea) would complement the economic team and bring us into stronger partnership on foreign policy, defense and security matters, particularly at a time of increased concerns about the Asia Pacific. Finally, regular and well-prepared meetings on the margins of G20 summits (or separately) between the Korean President and the Canadian Prime Minister would top it off.

Another area where special effort is needed to kick-start this Partnership is that of enhanced advocacy and awareness building. Government inspired and led over a two-year period, such a program could involve all those with something to gain from a successful partnership. Efforts to promote opportunities under the CKFTA could be gradually expanded to emphasize the broader themes, commonalities, and potentials across the relationship, not neglecting the importance of cultural and historical connections that resonate with individuals on both sides.

Finally, we must not forget that young Canadians and Koreans hold the key to the future of this partnership. We already have significant numbers of Canadians teaching English in Korea, and Koreans studying in Canada. But more can be done, for example, through fostering further educational opportunities, expanded travel and working holiday programs, and building specific youth elements into every bilateral conference.

Innovative investments like these will pay off many-fold in the years ahead through associations that will last a lifetime and ensure that the Strategic Partnership moves from being an expression of ambition to an ongoing and dynamic reality.

This piece was first published on

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions