B.C.’s minister of trade hopes a trip to China, South Korea and Japan this month will strengthen ties to those countries in the face of rocky relations with the U.S.
Bruce Ralston said the 10-day trade mission with Premier John Horgan will tout a range of provincial industries, rather than a single sector.
“Trade relations with our first customer, the United States, are somewhat strained,” Ralston said in an interview on Monday.
“I’m not prejudging the outcome of the NAFTA talks or the softwood talks, but I think it’s important that we, as an export-oriented economy, look to our other customers. And China, Japan and Korea are No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 in terms of our top export destinations.”
B.C. sent $5.9 billion in goods to China in 2016, $3.7 billion to Japan and $2.2 billion to South Korea.
B.C. accounted for more than 50 per cent of Canada’s exports to South Korea and the province’s exports to Japan are nearly double that of the next leading province, the government said.
Minister of State for Trade George Chow will accompany Horgan and Ralston on the trip. Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare will join them for the China leg to promote tourism opportunities during the 2018 Canada-China Year of Tourism.
“We’re not looking to one sector to create jobs,” Ralston said. “We’re looking to strengthen the traditional industries of forestry, energy and mining, but also supporting other sectors — tourism, agriculture, small business and tech.”
The trade mission runs Jan. 20 to 30.