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Canada inks free-trade deal with South Korea

March 11, 2014 at 8:20 AM   |   Comments

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SEOUL, March 11 (UPI) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday his government signed a free-trade agreement with South Korea, Canada's first with an Asian market.

Harper has tried to add a layer of diversity to an export economy that relies almost exclusively on the United States as its destination for oil and natural gas.

"As strong economic partners, we recognize great opportunities for economic cooperation in various areas including energy and natural resources, innovation, science and technology, and Arctic research and development," he said in a joint statement with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

In January, Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast touted his country as a "trading nation," adding it was working hard to "open new markets and trade routes for our priority export commodities."

Fast's office said 91.4 percent of all energy exports currently target the U.S. market.

In 2012, Canada exported more than $2.5 billion in industrial goods to South Korea, less than 1 percent of the Asian country's total imports.

Expanding Asian economies are taking on more natural gas to keep pace with demand. South Korea is one of the largest LNG consumers in the world.

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