- Canada will begin free trade talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a 10-country group including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
- International Trade Minister Mary Ng made the announcement Tuesday night, saying that a potential deal would provide economic opportunities for Canada and the opportunity to diversify supply chains.
“They are the world’s third-largest consumer market.” “The ASEAN region has over 600 million new customers and a $5 trillion economy,” Ng told the Star. “This is critical for both job growth and attracting investment from the region into Canada.”
The talks come as critics have urged Canada to become more involved in the Indo-Pacific region. Following a virtual conference between Ng and ASEAN economic ministers earlier Tuesday, the statement was made. The meeting was part of the 10th financial ministerial consultation between Canada and ASEAN.
The ASEAN group, founded in 1967, includes both larger countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam and smaller countries like Singapore and Brunei.
According to a joint media statement, in 2020, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and ASEAN states was worth roughly $19.9 billion US. In addition, as of 2020, the parties’ foreign direct investment has also increased.
Experts have been advocating for Ottawa to develop an Indo-Pacific strategy, partially responding to Beijing’s more hostile government. But, according to a news release announced Tuesday, the decision to advance with ASEAN negotiations represents a watershed moment in Canada’s Indo-Pacific economic and commercial participation.
As several countries, including Canada’s friends, try to resist China’s influence in the region, Jonathan Berkshire Miller, director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa, has pushed Canada to develop an Indo-Pacific strategy.
He stated that while Canada’s current trade with ASEAN members is low, a future free-trade agreement would be an “ingredient” in breaking the country’s trade-dependent on China. However, while such a pact would help Canada shift away from its reliance on China, it could face obstacles.
Source: TORONTO Star