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The twelfth AEM–Canada consultation

20 august 2023, Semarang, Indonesia

Joint media statement

1. The Twelfth AEM-Canada Consultation met on 20 August 2023. The Consultation was co-chaired by E. Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Trade, Republic of Indonesia, and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development, Canada. The Meeting welcomed H.E. Filipus Nino Pereira, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the Meeting as an observer.

2. The Meeting noted the positive trajectory in the trade and investment relations between ASEAN and Canada, amid the unsteady recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Canada’s statistics, in 2022, the total two-way merchandise trade was valued at USD 31.2 billion, or an increase of 8 per cent year-on-year. The foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow from Canada to ASEAN reached USD 30.73 billion, or an increase of 13.4  per cent year-on-year.

3. The Meeting exchanged views on the regional and global challenges, such as the multidimensional impact of the pandemic, climate change, heightened volatility in the global financial market, inflationary pressures, and geopolitical tensions that impact global food and energy security, all of which could potentially affect economic and trade relations between ASEAN and Canada. The Meeting noted that the geopolitical tensions in some parts of the world continue to impact the global economy, i.e., constraining growth, contributing to inflationary pressures, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks. The Meeting joined the call of ASEAN at the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for compliance with the UN Charter and international law as well as for a peaceful conflict resolution. The Meeting affirmed its commitment to exert utmost efforts to enhance cooperation between parties to mitigate the economic impact of these geopolitical tensions to the region as well as to their bilateral trade and economic relations, particularly on issues related to food and energy security. The Meeting emphasised that in order to navigate the challenging global environment, stronger and more impactful cooperation is essential.

4. The Meeting acknowledged and expressed appreciation to Canada for extending its support towards the region’s effort to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic through its contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and personal protective equipment (PPE) donation to ASEAN, as well as support to the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan, in the areas of public health surveillance and fostering supportive environment for digital industries. The Meeting noted the importance to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of common interest in order to sustain the recovery of the region.

5. The Meeting reaffirmed its commitments to maintain the momentum for recovery and for resilient economies despite the ongoing adverse global and regional disruptions. In this regard, the Meeting welcomed the progress of the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement (ACAFTA) negotiations, with the fourth Trade Negotiating Committee held on June 22, 2023, via videoconference. The Meeting tasked officials to continue intensive discussions to advance the negotiations towards a commercially meaningful ACAFTA for all stakeholders, which will bring economic benefits to ASEAN and Canada and enhance our shared commitment to a rules-based trading system and achieving fair, open and free markets, as well as sustainable economic growth and development.

6. The Meeting noted that both the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy share relevant fundamental principles in promoting an open, inclusive, transparent and rules-based regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, in which ASEAN is central.

7. The Meeting welcomed Canada’s technical assistance to ASEAN under the Expert Deployment Mechanism for Trade and Development (EDM). In 2023, a series of expert dialogues related to labour, environment, inclusive trade, and women and trade is planned to be conducted under the program. These activities will assist ASEAN’s Expert Groups in respective areas in enriching their knowledge and understanding on these trade elements in the context of the ACAFTA negotiations.

8. The Meeting welcomed the progress of the implementation of the third-year cooperation activities under the 2021-2025 Work Plan to implement the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment (JDTI Work Plan). The Meeting noted the satisfactory results from the continued consultations, dialogues and capacity-building programme to improve economic governance and stimulate sustainable economic growth within ASEAN in, among others, promoting trade and investment, strengthening Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

9. The Meeting reaffirmed its commitment to a rules-based, non-discriminatory, open, free, inclusive, equitable, and transparent multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core. The Meeting also highlighted its support to strengthen the WTO and ensure that it remains fit-for-purpose and forward-looking by pursuing reforms to improve all its functions, including to have a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all WTO members by 2024. The Meeting also expressed its determination to collaborate and coordinate on areas of common interest and contribute to the success of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2024.

10. The Meeting welcomed the operationalisation of the ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action Trust Fund in 2023. The Meeting noted that the Trust Fund would play an integral part in deepening and strengthening ASEAN-Canada relations across the three ASEAN Community pillars, including in supporting the ACAFTA negotiations.

11. The Meeting affirmed its commitment to support Timor-Leste to be an ASEAN Member State by providing technical assistance, capacity building and other support to facilitate Timor-Leste's integration into the mainstream of ASEAN-Canada economic relations. The Meeting also encouraged the Timor-Leste government to intensify efforts towards the preparations for ASEAN membership.

12. The Meeting looked forward to the convening of the ASEAN-Canada Summit to launch the ASEAN-Canada Strategic Partnership, during the 43rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in September 2023.

13. The Meeting recognised the increasing interest from Canadian business communities in exploring mutual investment and commercial opportunities in such a wide variety of industries in ASEAN. To maintain the momentum, the Meeting held a consultation with the Canada – ASEAN Business Council (CABC) and noted CABC’s recommendation on topics that are pre-eminent to the Canada-ASEAN business community, including energy transition, digital economy development, agriculture & food security, financial services & investment, infrastructure, and sustainability, as well as appreciated active supports from the businesses in advancing the ACAFTA negotiations.

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