Minister Fast Launches First Canada-ASEAN Business Forum

Deeper trade between Canada and Southeast Asia a key priority for Harper government

October 9, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today in Singapore launched the first meeting of the Canada-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Business Forum, a major initiative of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC), which Minister Fast launched in August 2012. The CABC has made significant progress in its first year of operation in helping Canadian companies identify opportunities to increase commercial ties between Canada and the ASEAN countries.

“Through the work of the CABC, we are helping to strengthen commercial ties with ASEAN in support of our government’s ambitious pro-trade plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fast. “That’s why we’ll continue to open new markets for our exporters throughout Southeast Asia.”

The establishment of the CABC is an important part of Canada’s commitment to ASEAN, as noted in a joint declaration on trade and investment issued by Minister Fast and ASEAN in 2011. That statement calls for further cooperation among governments and businesses and represents a promise by Canada and ASEAN to explore new ways to deepen economic ties.

ASEAN, Canada’s seventh-largest trading partner, is a market of more than 615 million consumers. The 10 members of ASEAN are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Canada-ASEAN bilateral merchandise trade expanded by 19.2 percent from 2007 to 2012 to reach $15.8 billion.

This is Minister Fast’s 13th visit to Asia since being named trade minister. Following meetings in Singapore, the Minister will visit China—his fourth official visit to that country as trade minister.

For more information, please consult Minister Fast Visits Asia.

A backgrounder follows.

Photo: Minister Fast addresses the Canada-ASEAN Business Forum.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
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Backgrounder - Canada and ASEAN

The Government of Canada is working to make it easier for Canadian companies to do business in the ASEAN countries. Canada has foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) in force with the Philippines and Thailand and is exploring free trade negotiations with Thailand, Canada’s largest trading partner in ASEAN. Canada is also negotiating FIPAs with Indonesia and Vietnam.

Canada is also participating alongside ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. The TPP has the potential to become a leading mechanism for regional economic integration in Asia and to produce significant benefits for exporters to and investors in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, in the past two years the Government of Canada has created dedicated commercial positions at missions throughout the ASEAN countries, including a trade commissioner in the Canadian office in Burma, to help identify ASEAN-wide business opportunities,

Many Canadian firms are doing business in the ASEAN region. These include the Bank of Nova Scotia, Celestica, Manulife Financial, the Royal Bank of Canada, Sun Life Assurance, Bombardier and CAE. Six sectors have been identified in the ASEAN countries where Canadian companies may find a favourable environment: aerospace, agri-food, automotive, clean technology, information and communications technology, and oil and gas.