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This page contains information about Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy (2007-2013). To learn about Canada’s new trade plan, visit Global Markets Action Plan.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—makes up one of the world’s fastest growing economic regions. In December 2008, ASEAN’s Charter came into force, granting ASEAN status as an international legal entity. With an estimated combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.1 trillion and a combined population of about 609 million people, ASEAN is a regional economic force that is quickly becoming the free trade hub of Asia. It has concluded free trade agreements with China, India, Japan, Korea, and Australia/New Zealand, has completed a Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement with the United States, and is in the process of pursuing several other trade and investment agreements. The ASEAN-China FTA, which came into force in 2010, represents one of the largest free-trade zones in the world, with an estimated 2.0 billion consumers. ASEAN is also pursuing further internal integration with the establishment an Economic Community (target date 2015), which would harmonize trade laws and permit the free movement of goods, services, labour, and capital to create a single market and production base.

Today, ASEAN’s growth is being driven by a growing middle class, economic integration of the 10 economies and its proximity to the massive Chinese and Indian markets. The region is an increasingly important global value chain player and a preferred production base for many multinational companies exporting to East Asia, North America, and Europe. It is also an important air and sea transportation gateway and a critical access point to China. Lack of infrastructure such as power, roads, and airport as well as outdated information and communications technology infrastructure represents one of the most serious obstacles to economic growth in the region. Significant investment across a wide range of sectors is required.

Commercial Relations, 2011

  • Canadian merchandise exports to ASEAN in 2011 were $5.0 billion.
  • Canadian merchandise imports from ASEAN in 2011 reached $10.6 billion.
  • Service exports to six of the ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) were estimated at $0.9 billion in 2009, while service imports from those countries were estimated at $1.9 billion.
  • Known Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stocks in Canada from ASEAN totaled $508 million at the end of 2010.
  • Known Canadian Direct Investment to ASEAN totaled $8.1 billion at the end of 2010.

Market Opportunities

The Government of Canada has identified ASEAN as a Global Commerce Strategy (GCS) priority market—based on extensive consultation with government, academic and Canadian business and industry representatives—and has developed a comprehensive Market Plan that identifies the following sectors as offering clear market opportunities well suited to Canadian capabilities and interests in the region:

  • Information and Communications Technology: Over the next five years, new commercial opportunities are expected in multimedia and graphics software and hardware, telecommunications services, and network management.
  • Cleantech: The importance of ensuring the sustainability of the region’s rapid economic growth in recent years has raised the importance of, and is creating commercial opportunities in the fields of alternative energy generation, greenbuilding and wastewater management, among others.
  • Aerospace: Growth of airline travel in the region has created demand for modern aircraft to service the needs of travellers in the region.
  • Education: Canadian educational institutions are being viewed positively for those ASEAN students wishing to pursue their studies abroad.
  • Infrastructure: Rapid growth and industrialization throughout the ASEAN region is creating opportunities for Canadian expertise in infrastructure development, engineering and construction.
  • Agriculture, Food and Beverages: A growing middle class with dual-income households and greater disposable income is fuelling demand for processed and on-the-go foods. This, coupled with a burgeoning tourism industry, is opening up opportunities to supply agricultural commodities, fish and seafood, and processed food and beverages.
  • Agriculture, Food and Beverages: A growing middle class with dual-income households and greater disposable income is fuelling demand for processed and on-the-go foods. This, coupled with a burgeoning tourism industry, is opening up opportunities to supply agricultural commodities, fish and seafood, and processed food and beverages.
  • Oil and Gas Equipment and Services: With gas reserves depleting, the region’s need for oil recovery technologies and Canadian expertise and equipment in oil-related services is growing.

Canada-ASEAN Commercial Relations, 2007-2011

Source: Statistics Canada

Text Alternative: Canada-ASEAN Commercial Relations, 2007-2011
Canada-ASEAN Commercial Relations, 2007-2011
 Canadian Merchandise ExportsCanadian Merchandise Imports

Government Leadership and Support

The Government of Canada will continue to influence ASEAN trade, investment and economic policies and regulations in favour of Canadian interests. Canada is currently negotiating foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPA) with Indonesia and Vietnam, and has recently adopted a Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment with ASEAN, which seeks to strengthen bilateral commercial ties. Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service is reinforcing its ability to provide market intelligence and in-market support through both the addition of resources in the region, and through the development of new online tools. Furthermore, the ASEAN Commercial Network, established in 2009, is now hosts a number of virtual sector teams that focus on specific sectors, such as infrastructure, cleantech and ICT to better share information and resources and identify trade and investment opportunities within ASEAN as a whole. Trade Commissioners will continue to actively promote Canadian commercial capabilities throughout the ASEAN countries, while providing Canadian companies with the market intelligence, connections and support they need to capitalize on specific opportunities.

Market Access

Canada has a number of bilateral trade and investment policy instruments in place that are helping to facilitate and support Canadian commercial engagement in the region:


  • Canada-Malaysia Air Transport Agreement
  • Canada-Philippines Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA)


  • Canada-Philippines Air Transport Agreement


  • Canada-Thailand FIPA


  • Canada-Thailand Air Transport Agreement


  • Canada-Singapore Air Transport Agreement


  • Canada-Vietnam Air Transport Agreement

In progress

  • Canada-Vietnam FIPA
  • Canada-Indonesia FIPA
  • Exploratory discussions for a Canada-Thailand FTA

Unless otherwise stated, all data is for 2009 and expressed in Canadian dollars. All data based on latest available national statistics drawn from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, Export Development Canada, Bank of Canada, IMF WEO and UNCTAD.

For further information, visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website or contact the Trade Commissioner Service at 1-888-306-9991.


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Fast Facts

  • Population (est.): 608.8 million
  • Total Area: 4.5 million km²
  • Combined GDP (est.): $2.1 trillion
  • Main Canadian Exports (millions): Fertilizers ($1,131.3), Machinery ($538.5), Cereals ($488.4), Wood pulp ($440.0), Electrical and electronic equipment ($301.5)
  • Main Canadian Imports (millions): Electrical and electronic equipment ($2,890.3), Machinery ($1,069.0), Rubber ($902.1), Knit apparel ($741.3), Woven apparel ($485.0)

The Canada Trade Commissioner Service