Trudeau’s Trip to South Korea Focuses on Critical Minerals, Clean Energy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concluded an official visit to Seoul today (May 18), the first such visit by a Canadian prime minister in nine years. During the visit, Trudeau and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) focused on co-operation on critical minerals, clean energy transitions, and energy security.  

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) shakes hands with South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) shakes hands with South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol before their meeting at the Presidential Office on May 17, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea. Trudeau arrived in Seoul the previous day on a three-day official visit to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. | Photo by Kim Hong-Ji - Pool/Getty Images

Critical minerals critical to co-operation

In a joint statement, the leaders said the MoU will support the two countries’ efforts to be “globally competitive players in areas including batteries and zero-emission vehicles.” Canada possesses several critical minerals required to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and sourcing these inputs from Canada could open strategic opportunities for South Korean automakers: to be eligible for a consumer tax credit (US$3,750 per vehicle) under the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, EVs imported into the U.S. must have at least 40 per cent of the components used in their batteries come from the U.S. or a U.S. free trade partner, such as Canada.  

60th anniversary of bilateral relations

The visit comes as Canada and South Korea celebrate 60 years of bilateral relations. And while in Korea, Trudeau stopped at sites commemorating Canada’s contributions to the Korean War. The trip also closely followed Yoon’s visit to Washington, D.C. in April. While there, US President Joe Biden and Yoon signed a wide-ranging agreement that included co-operation on nuclear non-proliferation and deterrence as pillars.

Trudeau departed Seoul later today (local time) for Hiroshima, Japan, where he will participate in the G7 Summit. Japan, as G7 host, will promote nuclear disarmament among its key themes.