The International Trade Council warmly acknowledges the impending strategic partnership between Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This significant move is set to be formalized during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's upcoming visit to Indonesia, where he will meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo among other dignitaries.
The forthcoming partnership underscores Canada’s increasingly prominent role in the Indo-Pacific region and represents a key milestone in ongoing discussions for a Canada-ASEAN free-trade agreement. The formal partnership will be ratified during Trudeau’s two-day visit to Jakarta, where he is also slated to speak on various subjects including climate change, food security, and economic collaboration, encompassing aspects like energy production and trade.
The partnership comes after several years of strengthening relations between ASEAN and Canada, with preliminary talks on a free-trade agreement commencing in 2021. Wayne Farmer, President of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council, notes that the negotiations are progressing well, with both parties aiming to finalize the agreement by 2025.
The Indo-Pacific stands as Canada’s second-largest merchandise export market following the United States, demonstrating the region's strategic importance for Canadian trade. With trade between Canada and ASEAN having grown by nearly 29% in 2022, it’s apparent that the partnership holds considerable promise for further engagement and economic growth.
Farmer mentions the distinctive opportunity that Canada has been given, especially considering other strategic partners of ASEAN, such as the United States and the European Union, have also been vying for similar trade negotiations.
Gaphel Kongtsa, Director of International Policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, cites the elimination of trade barriers as a top priority for businesses, especially given the economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical shifts.
Canada’s strength in agribusiness, technology, and green energy are particularly welcomed by ASEAN countries. Amid a global call for accelerated energy transition and a move away from coal dependency, Canada’s expertise in alternative energy sources and technology is seen as instrumental.
As a neutral organization committed to promoting international trade, the International Trade Council believes that the Canada-ASEAN strategic partnership will contribute positively to global commerce and cooperation.