Harper touts trade at Richmond fish plant

Rick Pughe, vice-president of operations for Canfisco, shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper the Richmond plant
Rick Pughe, vice-president of operations for Canfisco, shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper the Richmond plant's distribution centre. Industry Minister James Moore (left) accompanied Harper on the tour.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra

Prime Minister Stephen Harper toured a Richmond fish plant Wednesday afternoon, a day after announcing Canada's first trade deal with an Asian market.

RCMP locked down access to the Canada Fishing Company plant on Rice Mill Road ahead of the arrival of Harper, who met with executives and workers of the longtime plant better known as Canfisco.

It was a rare local appearance for Canada's top politician, whose Conservative party has comfortably owned both Richmond ridings for the last two terms. But Harper is keen to trumpet his government's success in opening up markets in Asia for Canadian exporters like Canfisco.

Harper, accompanied by Industry Minister James Moore and International Trade Minister Ed Fast, didn't speak to the media in Richmond, but said in a statement that businesses and consumers in B.C. stand to benefit significantly from the new Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

"It gives Canadian businesses access to a booming G-20 economy, and opens access in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market. Through this agreement, Canadian consumers will also benefit from a greater variety of goods at lower prices."

Canfisco supplies Canadian grocery markets with its Gold Seal line of canned salmon, tuna and seafood products. It also exports its product around the world, including Asia.

Earlier in the day Harper spoke at a B.C. Chamber of Commerce event in Vancouver and later met with members of the Canadian-Korean community in Burnaby.

The Canada-Korea deal will create thousands of new jobs in Canada and provide Canadian businesses with a gateway to Asia, the government says. The forestry, agricultural, professional services and investment sectors all stand to benefit.

South Korea is already B.C.'s fourth-largest trading partner, with half of all Canadian exports to the nation coming from B.C. Exports from the province to South Korea were worth an annual average of $2.17 billion, according to 2010 to 2012 figures.

The trade agreement is projected to increase Canadian exports by 32 per cent and grow the economy by $1.7 billion, according to a government release.

Canada has signed seven free trade agreements with nine countries in the last seven years, including the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement. Negotiations continue with 30 more nations.

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