Canada, South Korea to deepen electric vehicle production ties to counter China – National

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol says Canada is a natural fit to boost electric vehicle production as both countries seek to contain the risk of a more aggressive China.

During his day-long visit to Ottawa on Friday to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the President praised Canada’s natural resources and artificial intelligence research, saying they could complement his country’s work in digital technology and semiconductors.

“If we work together in this area, I think (Korea’s) digital and data technology and Canada’s AI technology can work together and in synergy,” Yoon said in Korean during a press conference on Parliament Hill.

He said these strengths complement his country’s work in digital and semiconductors.

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The two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on critical minerals used in electric vehicle batteries as both countries seek to cut emissions to combat climate change.

“Yoon and I have discussed opportunities to collaborate in a variety of areas, including key minerals, batteries for electric vehicles, and emerging technologies, including AI,” Trudeau told reporters.

Canada has many of the critical minerals — like lithium, cobalt and nickel — that are now used to make electric vehicle batteries, and the government is in the process of helping manufacturers and processors ramp up production.

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China is currently by far the world’s dominant supplier of critical minerals used in electric vehicles. Yoon said finding an alternative supplier is strategic for both countries.

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Construction of an electric vehicle battery materials manufacturing facility in Loyalist Township

Construction of EV Battery Materials Production Plant in Loyalist Township – July 13, 2022

Robert Huish, a professor of international development at Dalhousie University, said Canadians are often unaware of how deep their cultural and economic ties with South Korea have been for decades.

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“Canada sometimes forgets that it’s a Pacific nation, and it’s very committed to getting involved in the South Korean market,” said Huish, who conducts security research on the Korean Peninsula.

“In the future, there is a desire to make that stronger.”

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Huish said planeloads of seafood from Nova Scotia arrived in South Korea several times a week before the COVID-19 pandemic, and a network of Canada-Korean friendship groups had fostered strong industrial ties.

“Canada is proving to be a very strategic market for South Korea, from exporting seafood to getting into electric vehicle components.”

Both could be on the agenda next month when Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne will be part of a delegation to Seoul.

Yoon also thanked Canada for its support in containing the North Korean threat.

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Canada recently deployed a frigate as part of an ongoing multinational surveillance operation tracking whether the communist regime is trying to circumvent sanctions. This also includes the monitoring of ships transporting fuel or goods.

Friday’s meeting comes after months of anticipation of Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, a document industry groups hope will clarify which countries Ottawa wants to get closer to and which countries should be given less priority due to trade barriers or human rights concerns.

Countries like Britain and France have already released such documents, and months ago the Liberals promised Canada to outline its Indo-Pacific strategy. On Friday, Trudeau twice pointed out that South Korea is also working on its own strategy for the region.

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Also on Friday, Trudeau announced Canada’s ambassador to China, a post that had been vacant since last December.

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Canada appoints career diplomat as new ambassador to China amid strained relations

He has tasked Jennifer May, a career diplomat with three decades of foreign service experience, with advancing both trade and democratic values.

“China is certainly a really challenging player in the region,” Trudeau said on Friday. “A nuanced approach that considers the interests of Canadians, the interests of the citizens of our democracies, is critical.

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“For too long, China and other autocracies have been able to pit neighbors and friends against each other by allowing them access to their market.”

At several points during his visit, Yoon mentioned Canada’s casualties in the Korean War, including after the wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to Trudeau’s West Bloc office, Yoon praised his policies and support for multiculturalism.

“You are such an attractive leader; They have brought unity to Canadian society,” said a translator of Yoon in English.

– With files from Reuters

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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