Address by Minister Fast to Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

No. 2011/33 - Jakarta, Indonesia - October 3, 2011

Check Against Delivery

It’s a pleasure to join so many people today from Indonesia’s business community. You’re the driving force behind this country’s great economic success.

Indonesia’s importance

Canada joins the world in applauding Indonesia’s impressive economic growth—6.1 percent last year.

And the International Monetary Fund recently released its September 2011 forecast predicting continued strong growth in the years ahead.

Canadians are also excited about Indonesia’s rapidly expanding domestic market of 237 million people; its growing middle class; its abundant natural resources; its leadership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN]; and, above all, its commitment to a strong, prosperous partnership with Canada in the years ahead.

A strong partnership

Our two countries have enjoyed a strong, friendly partnership since we established diplomatic relations almost 60 years ago, in 1952.

We’re working shoulder to shoulder on a number of important issues, including counterterrorism, human rights and poverty reduction.

And, over the years, trade and investment have become a critical dimension of our partnership.

Our bilateral merchandise trade reached over $2.3 billion last year and is remarkably balanced.

Indonesia is Canada’s largest export market in Southeast Asia, while Canada buys significant amounts of rubber, apparel and electrical machinery from your country.

Indonesia is also Canada’s second-largest investment market in the region. Since 2010, Canadian companies have collectively invested about $2.8 billion in this country.

I saw a great example of this investment today, when I attended the grand opening of Manulife Financial’s new marketing office here in Jakarta.

This Canadian company has already built a substantial presence in this country and around the world.

Last year, the Indonesian Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers Association named it Indonesia’s best life insurance company, with more than one million customers and 8,000 staff and agents in 20 cities across the country.

It’s a great example of how a global company can create and sustain jobs for people.

And it’s a great example of what Canada can offer our partners in Indonesia and, indeed, across the ASEAN region.

That’s what I’d like to talk to you about today: what Canada can offer, and how we can grow our partnership in the years ahead.

What Canada can offer

During my visit, I have met with a number of top-notch Canadian business people, representing sectors like financial services, transport, aerospace, natural resources and information and communications technology.

They all stand as good examples of what Canada can offer.

Look at infrastructure, for example.

Over the decades, Canadians have developed the world’s second-largest country, across some of the harshest climates and most varied geography in the world.

Our companies have built up substantial expertise around the world, too, including right here in Indonesia.

Around the world, you can find Canadian-designed, Canadian-engineered and Canadian-built buildings, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.

Canada is also a world leader in public-private partnerships.

Canadian companies are sharing their expertise in this area to help Indonesia as it embarks on its ambitious plans to expand its infrastructure over the coming years.

Canada’s expertise in mining, and oil and gas would also be a natural fit for Indonesian demand.

Again, our companies have decades of experience here in Indonesia and around the world—building pipelines and helping countries make the most of the precious resources in their backyards.

Look at the great track record of Canadian firms like Talisman Energy, Husky Energy and Niko Resources here in Indonesia.

Indonesia has significant oil and gas reserves and mineral deposits—just as Canada does.

As this country continues developing these resources, it should also continue looking to Canada for products and expertise.

Supporting our businesses

Our government is committed to making more connections between Indonesian demand and Canadian products, services and expertise in these and other areas.

Our team of trade commissioners is working tirelessly at our embassy in Jakarta to ensure that our Indonesian partners know what Canada can offer.

They’re helping Canadian firms build a presence in this market.

And they’re great points of contact for Indonesian companies to learn about how Canada can fit into their business plans.

Our trade commissioners are also helping to get the word out about Canada’s many economic advantages.

Like Indonesia, Canada weathered the global economic crisis very well.

And we’re in excellent shape for the future, with great growth prospects, a low-tax business environment, and a talented, well-educated, multicultural workforce.

We’re taking every opportunity to talk about these advantages with Indonesian investors.

And because investment plays such a crucial role in our partnership, we’re also negotiating with Indonesia a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement.

Once finalized, it will give investors from both countries the predictable framework they need to invest with confidence in each other’s market.

But moving forward on these initiatives also requires strong cooperation between government and businesses in both countries.

A new partnership with ASEAN

As some of you may know, Canada has long-standing relations with ASEAN, the region’s premier organization.

With 10 economies accounting for about 600 million consumers, ASEAN is working toward enhanced economic integration.

It’s capturing the world’s attention, including Canada’s.

That’s why I was so pleased yesterday to join Indonesia’s Minister of Trade, Mari Pangestu, to adopt the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment.

This declaration represents a new milestone in Canada’s partnership with ASEAN.

It’s the first commercial arrangement ever adopted between Canada and ASEAN.

It shows Canada’s commitment to exploring new ways to expand our business ties with influential, growing regions like ASEAN.

The joint declaration calls for stronger collaboration among business and government in the years ahead.

Going forward, we’re committed to working with businesses on both sides of the Pacific to shape the policies, tools and programs that will expand trade and encourage more two-way investment.

I am here to deliver a clear message: Canada wants to do more business in and with this important region.

After all, ASEAN represents a region with a growing middle class and abundant natural resources. It’s 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.

We certainly see these kinds of advantages here in Indonesia.

Together, Canada and our ASEAN partners like Indonesia have built a great track record of success, even in the face of the global recession.

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

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

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

Many companies from the region are discovering what Canada can offer.

Firms like Malaysia’s Petronas, Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and Indonesia’s Paper Excellence are making significant investments in Canada.

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

The Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment is an excellent way to kick off this celebration and open a new chapter in Canada’s partnership with Southeast Asia.

Conclusion

Canada is convinced that these uncertain economic times call for more partnerships between nations, more trade and more investment.

At home, we’re moving forward on an ambitious free trade plan to deepen Canada’s trade relationships in priority markets around the world.

That includes ambitious trade negotiations with the European Union and India.

We understand that trade has a direct impact on people’s lives—on their jobs and on the money they bring home to their families.

As the nations of the world plan for lasting economic recovery, they must find ways to open more doors to trade and investment among all nations.

Protectionism is not the answer; partnerships are.

I’m pleased that Canada and ASEAN have taken an important step this week to strengthen our partnership.

I’m deeply impressed by the spirit of cooperation I’ve seen here in Indonesia.

And I’m very encouraged by the opportunities I’ve seen here to expand our trade and investment with this dynamic, exciting economy in the years ahead.

I know I can count on your group and on the entire Indonesian business community to continue working with Canada to help create new sources of jobs and prosperity for people in both countries.

Thank you.