Mr. Speaker, it is pleasure to rise on this debate today.
Our Conservative government is focused on creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians in every region of our country. That is why our government launched the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canadian history. We are pursuing deeper trade and investment ties with many of the largest, most dynamic, and fastest-growing markets in the world. We are doing so to enhance Canada's competitive edge in a fiercely competitive global economy.
To this end, our government has developed the global markets action plan, GMAP, Canada's blueprint for creating jobs and opportunities at home and abroad through trade and investment, the twin engines of economic growth. Under the GMAP, our government will concentrate efforts on markets that hold the greatest opportunities for Canadian businesses.
In support of this, our government stands ready to harness Canada's diplomatic assets in the pursuit of commercial success by Canadian companies abroad, particularly by small and medium-sized enterprises. In fact, the GMAP establishes ambitious yet achievable targets over the next five years to expand the export footprint of the Canadian small and medium enterprise community.
Throughout the GMAP consultation process, it was clear that the Asia-Pacific region is a crucially important one to Canadian companies. It is home to the high-growth markets of the future. As Asia continues to prosper, the implications for Canada are profound in both the short and the long term. Trade has long been a very powerful engine for Canada's economy, and it is even more so in what remains a challenging time for the global economy.
It is shameful to note that during 13 long years in power, the Liberals completely neglected trade. They completed only three free trade agreements. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. In fact, the last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade, they were campaigning to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement.
It was also very disappointing to see this past summer the NDP trade critic protesting alongside well-known radical anti-trade activists, like the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, at an anti-trade protest. Fortunately for Canadians, they can count on this Conservative government to get the job done.
With the conclusion of negotiations for the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, our government has taken a meaningful and concrete step toward ensuring that Canadian companies have increased access to the Asia-Pacific region. South Korea has been designated a GMAP priority market. In addition to being the fourth largest economy in Asia, boasting a robust, export-oriented $1.3 trillion economy, South Korea is also a key gateway to the wider Asia-Pacific region that offers strategic access to regional and global value chains.
With a population of 50 million and a per capita GDP of more than $25,000, which is one of the highest in Asia, South Korea is one of Asia's most lucrative, dynamic, and advanced markets. It is home to many large global businesses, including household names like Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. I am sure almost every member in the House would be able to say they have products from some of those companies in their homes and offices, and I am sure most Canadian households would be able to say the same.
The priority sectors identified under the GMAP as holding promising opportunities for Canadian companies in the South Korean market include, but are not limited to, areas like agriculture, education, oil and gas, mining, information and communications technology, and sustainable technologies.
I will now touch on just a few of these priority sectors and emphasize how the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would transform these opportunities into engines of growth for Canadian companies and for the Canadian economy as a whole.
South Korea imported over 29 billion dollars' worth of agrifood and seafood products in 2013. Canadian exports to South Korea of those goods were nearly $416 million last year, representing less than 2% of the market share. This marks more than a 60% decline in Canadian agrifood and seafood exports over the proceeding two years. A key reason for this is the preferential access that our competitors have enjoyed since their free trade agreements with South Korea came into effect. Most notable are the Korea-EU and Korea-U.S. free trade agreements, which came into effect in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
South Korea's growing per capita income and demand for high-quality food present considerable potential for our Canadian products. Export growth in agrifood and fish and seafood products depend on the full implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. Only this would ensure that Canadian producers are on a level playing field with major competitors in the South Korean market.
Based on 2011 to 2013 average trade values, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on around 70% of agricultural imports from Canada into South Korea within five years, and about 97% of agricultural imports within 15 years. This includes all key Canadian products of interest. This duty-free access would give Canadian agricultural products, including beef, pork, canola and grains, the preferential access to the South Korean market that they need.
South Korea was Canada's eighth largest market for all goods exported in 2013. Even so, Canada is not ranked as one of South Korea's top 10 suppliers of mineral resources. Obviously, what that tells us is that there are significant opportunities for growth for Canada in this sector.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would significantly improve market access opportunities for Canada's metals and minerals sector by eliminating tariffs on all Canadian metal and mineral exports. This includes aluminum, iron, steel, nickel, non-ferrous metals, precious gems and metals, and other mineral products. Upon the agreement's entry into force, over 98% of South Korea's current metals and minerals imports from Canada, which currently face duties of up to 8%, would be duty free, and all remaining tariffs would be eliminated within five years.
If I may, I will move on to another sector that would benefit from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement and boost the ability of Canadian firms to expand their access into the South Korean market and beyond. That is the information and communications technology sector. South Korea is a major manufacturer of ICT products. Significant opportunities exist for Canadian ICT companies to partner with major South Korean companies, many of which are global leaders, and to leverage their global value chains.
In addition, South Korea is home to a large consumer base with a high propensity for adoption of new ICT technologies, particularly in telecoms, game development and entertainment. These are areas in which Canadian companies have significant expertise. The fast growth of 4G mobile services in South Korea also presents opportunities to be involved in the development of new wireless technologies and network services. South Korea has a high smartphone penetration ratio of 73% of its population, which is the highest in the world. That provides a great market base for Canadian game developers and digital entertainment producers.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would significantly improve market access opportunities for Canada's ICT sector by eliminating tariffs on all Canadian exports. Products such as cameras, transmission apparatus, and electrical conductors, which have current duties of up to 13%, would enter the South Korean market duty free upon entry into force of this agreement.
Without question, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would level the playing field for Canadian companies and enhance their ability to tap into lucrative global value chains, boosting their global competitiveness, profitability and long-term sustainability. Going forward, our government will continue to work closely with industry stakeholders to keep the GMAP attuned to global trends and to align it with our government's priorities.
Working together, we will build on our past successes to ensure a prosperous Canada that remains a champion of global trade and investment. On that note, I urge all members of Parliament to join me in supporting the implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, which would create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in every single region of this country.