Canada Increases Its Southeast Asia Presence

(No. 341 - November 12, 2009 - 11:45 a.m. EST) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that Canada is taking steps to increase its commercial and political presence in Southeast Asia by creating Canada’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Network. The Ministers made the announcement while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore.

"We are strengthening our presence in Southeast Asia with the right people, and doing the right things to get tangible results for Canadians," said Minister Cannon. "The ASEAN Network reinforces Canada’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. With respect to Burma, Canada is strengthening its advocacy on human rights; we look forward to closer cooperation in the region."

Canada’s ASEAN Network will involve experts working on trade and investment, human rights, security, health, natural disasters and other bilateral and multilateral issues in the region.

"The ASEAN Network will further Canadian interests in the region and help identify new business opportunities for Canadian companies," said Minister Day. "Additional experts in Canada's missions in Southeast Asia will promote Canada as an investment destination of choice. Canada has a lot to offer, including a sound banking system, a stable business environment, the lowest corporate taxes in the G7 by 2012, and a dynamic, talented, highly qualified workforce."

At this year’s APEC Ministerial Meeting, participants agreed to ensure that the current trend toward economic recovery continues and is inclusive, balanced and sustainable. They agreed to do this by working together for regional economic integration and by supporting the multilateral trading system.

APEC is a huge potential market. Together, its members account for 54 percent of world gross domestic product, 41 percent of world population and 44 percent of global merchandise trade. Canada’s merchandise exports to APEC countries reached $420 billion in 2008. Canada also has a large investment presence in the APEC region. In 2008, the known stock of Canadian direct investment in APEC countries was nearly $354 billion.

The APEC forum promotes free and open markets in one of the world’s largest economic zones. It comprises 21 members: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

The ASEAN member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was founded in 1967 to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region to help ensure a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations.

For more information about the Ministers’ participation at the APEC meeting, please visit APEC 2009.

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For further information and high-resolution photographs, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade
and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000