Address by Minister Fast at Ceremony to Adopt ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment

No. 2011/32 - Jakarta, Indonesia - October 2, 2011

Check Against Delivery

I’d like to thank Minister [of Trade for Indonesia Mari] Pangestu for hosting today’s ceremony, and also for being a steadfast advocate for closer ties between Canada and all of the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN].

Indonesia is chair of ASEAN and Canada’s country coordinator on economic matters, and we appreciate its leadership in bringing us together tonight.

Let me extend Canada’s strong encouragement for the work under way to create an ASEAN community by 2015.

It’s a formidable goal, one that will sharpen ASEAN’s competitive edge and further cement its position in the global economy in the years to come.

Canada is proud of our partnership with ASEAN.

Next year, we celebrate 35 years of partnership and friendship between Canada and ASEAN.

Canada is one of ASEAN’s longest dialogue partners, and we have achieved many successes together over the years.

And today, we’ve reached another important milestone: the adoption of the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment.

Canada is proud of this achievement.

We see enormous opportunity in ASEAN.

It’s a region with a growing middle class and abundant natural resources—an increasingly integrated region that’s attracting trade and investment from around the world.

It’s also home to vitally important shipping lines, connecting the world’s trade to dynamic and powerful economies throughout Asia and beyond.

Canada wants to do more business in and with this important region.

Together, we’ve built a great track record of success, even in the face of the global recession.

Last year, our bilateral merchandise trade reached $13.8 billion.

That makes ASEAN, as a group, Canada’s seventh most important trading partner.

Over the last decade, bilateral merchandise trade has increased by over 52 percent.

Many companies from the region are discovering what Canada has to offer.

Firms like Petronas of Malaysia, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited of Thailand and Temasek Holdings of Singapore are making significant investments in Canada.

They’re tapping into Canadian advantages like our low-tax business environment, our stable and strong financial system, and our talented workforce. 

And last year, Canada’s investment in the ASEAN region was more than our investment in China and India combined.

Canada wants to build on this record of success, especially today, as all of our countries continue to look for new opportunities and sources of jobs and prosperity for our citizens.

That’s why our joint declaration is so important.

It’s the first trade and investment agreement adopted between Canada and ASEAN.

It shows our commitment to exploring new ways to deepen our economic ties in the years ahead, and calls for stronger collaboration between business and government.

We’re encouraging businesses on both sides of the Pacific to help shape the policies, tools and programs that will expand trade, and foster more two-way investment in the years ahead.

Arrangements like the one we’re adopting today demonstrate the power of partnerships to help see us through these uncertain global economic times.

Canada’s government is committed to creating more partnerships like this with our friends around the world.

We’ve embarked upon an ambitious free trade plan to create new jobs and open new doors of opportunity for Canadians.

Since 2006, we’ve demonstrated Canada’s commitment to free and open trade by concluding new agreements with nine countries.

And we’re negotiating many more, including with the European Union and with India.

Canadians look forward to working with our friends around the world, including throughout Asia, to create new opportunities and spark new sources of jobs and prosperity for our citizens in the years to come.

Thank you.