Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising 10 member states. Established by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in 1967, it was later joined by Brunei, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Canada became an ASEAN dialogue partner in 1977 and is one of only 10 countries with this designation. Dialogue partners cooperate on political and security issues, regional integration, economic interests, inter-faith dialogue, transnational crime and counterterrorism, disaster risk reduction and other areas.

Canada’s trade and investment in Southeast Asia is expanding quickly—not only in volume, but across many sectors, including oil and gas, mining, high tech, telecommunications, agri-food, financial services, aviation and consumer goods.

Canada’s international development assistance to the region helps strengthen the regional policy agenda and reinforces ASEAN institutions, organizations and networks in addressing shared regional development priorities.

Diedrah Kelly is the Ambassador of Canada to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Permanent Mission of Canada to ASEAN is located within the Embassy of Canada in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Canada’s relations with ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising 10 member states. Established by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in 1967, it was later joined by Brunei, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The objectives of ASEAN are to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development; promote regional peace and stability, respect for justice and the rule of law; and increase collaboration across a range of economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative spheres.

The ASEAN Secretariat, located in Jakarta, Indonesia, and led by a secretary-general, coordinates the work of ASEAN member states and their associated bodies. The ASEAN Secretariat is also responsible for coordinating ASEAN’s relationship with external partners, including Canada.

Canada became an ASEAN dialogue partner in 1977 and is one of only 10 countries with this designation. Dialogue partners cooperate on political and security issues, regional integration, economic interests, inter-faith dialogue, transnational crime and counterterrorism, disaster risk reduction and other areas.

ASEAN is important to Canada

ASEAN is at the heart of Asia’s regional security architecture, and it represents one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. In 2009, Canada appointed an ambassador to ASEAN and adopted the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership. In 2016, Canada opened its dedicated mission to ASEAN and appointed its first dedicated ambassador to ASEAN. Canada has diplomatic representation in all 10 ASEAN member states.

The Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment (2011) provides a platform for regular exchanges of information on opportunities and explores ways to expand and promote trade and investment between Canada and ASEAN.

Quick facts

  • Canada provides security assistance to ASEAN member states helping to achieve ambitious integration goals, which contributes to regional peace and security and promotes Canadian foreign policy objectives in Southeast Asia.
  • As a group, ASEAN member state economies represent Canada’s sixth-largest merchandise trading partner. In 2017, Canada-ASEAN merchandise trade reached $23.3 billion.
  • More than 23,000 students from the ASEAN region currently study in Canada.

Canada-ASEAN trade and investment

Canada’s trade and investment in Southeast Asia is expanding quickly—not only in volume, but across many sectors, including oil and gas, mining, high tech, telecommunications, agri-food, financial services, aviation and consumer goods.

Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment

Canada and ASEAN are party to the Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment (JDTI) (2011), which provides a platform for Canada and ASEAN member states to exchange information on trade and investment opportunities and to strengthen commercial engagement.

In August 2015, Canada and the ASEAN member states adopted a new work plan to guide the implementation of the JDTI from 2016 to 2020. Efforts focus on a number of areas, including:

  • small and medium-sized enterprises
  • education
  • innovation
  • corporate social responsibility

Joint Feasibility Study for a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement

Canada and ASEAN conducted a Joint Feasibility Study for a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement to assess the potential economic gains that would arise from a possible Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement. The study highlights the benefits that would be gained through deeper integration of Canada and the ten economies that make up ASEAN. Canada and ASEAN applied different methodologies to assess the benefits of a potential FTA, consistent with each party’s respective domestic practices. Both scenarios illustrated gains for both Canada and ASEAN. In September 2018, the Joint Feasibility Study was endorsed by Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr, and ASEAN Economic Ministers.

Public Consultations on a possible Canada-ASEAN FTA

From September 1 to October 16, 2018, the Government of Canada conducted public consultations through the Canada Gazette to seek the views of Canadians on a possible free trade agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Comments were collected in a number of ways, including in writing, by e-mail, and through in-person meetings and teleconferences. While the official consultation period has closed, the Government of Canada remains committed to hearing from Canadians on a possible FTA with ASEAN.

Support for Canadian businesses in the ASEAN region

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has offices in Canadian diplomatic missions in each of the 10 ASEAN member states. This network of trade and investment promotion experts works in direct support of Canadian companies active in the region, providing advice and problem solving. In Southeast Asia, trade commissioners are active in many sectors, including:

  • aerospace
  • defence and security
  • extractive industries
  • information and communications technologies
  • infrastructure
  • sustainable technologies
  • clean technology
  • education

The Canada-ASEAN Business Council, based in Singapore, is an industry association focused on advocacy and on increasing private sector linkages among Canadian and ASEAN businesses.

Quick facts

  • As a group of countries, the 10 member states of ASEAN represent Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner (2017).
  • If ASEAN were one economy, it would be the seventh largest in the world.
  • ASEAN is one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions, with an estimated GDP growth rate of 5.1% for 2018 (Asian Development Bank).
  • In 2017, Canada-ASEAN merchandise trade reached Can$23.3 billion.

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Canada’s development assistance for ASEAN

During the past five decades, ASEAN has achieved significant results in improving the lives of people in Southeast Asia. ASEAN has helped reduce the percentage of people living in extreme poverty and in urban slums, reduce maternal mortality, increase primary school enrolment and increase the percentage of women parliamentarians. Challenges remain, including those associated with natural disasters and rising income inequality across the region.

Canada has an important role to play, as an ASEAN dialogue partner, in advancing ASEAN’s community-building objectives under three themes:

  • economic
  • socio-cultural
  • political-security

Canada’s international development assistance to the region helps strengthen the regional policy agenda and reinforces ASEAN institutions, organizations and networks in addressing shared regional development priorities.

ASEAN regional development program

Funding under the ASEAN Regional Development Program is a key part of the international development assistance that Canada provides to ASEAN. Program funding focuses on the following Canadian development priorities:

  • supporting inclusive and green growth that works for everyone through initiatives that support small and medium-sized enterprises and reduce the potential impact of natural disasters; and
  • promoting and protecting human rights, inclusive governance and peaceful pluralism, particularly with respect to vulnerable groups, such as women and migrant workers.

Canada’s development programs are aligned with the ASEAN community-building objectives set out in the 2016 to 2020 ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action.

Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development

In 2017, the Government of Canada launched a five-year $10-million scholarship program—the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development. The program aims to build the capacity of students and mid-career professionals to address development challenges in the ASEAN region.

The scholarships are for short-term studies (up to two academic sessions or eight months) or research in Canada in fields of study that are relevant to ASEAN’s efforts to narrow the development gap and reduce poverty in Southeast Asia.

For more information on scholarships and the application process please visit the International Scholarships website.

Quick facts

  • Canada has provided immediate assistance in response to humanitarian crises across ASEAN and has funded various regional disaster-risk-reduction initiatives in support of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.
  • Since 2000, Canada has provided $2.7 billion in development assistance to ASEAN and its member states.

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Message from the Ambassador

Welcome to the Mission of Canada to ASEAN, the primary channel for communications between the Government of Canada and ASEAN. I am deeply honoured to have been named by Canada’s Prime Minister, the Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau, as Canada’s Ambassador to ASEAN.

The Mission of Canada to ASEAN carries forward the proud tradition of multilateral diplomacy and international engagement. We are here to ensure that Canada plays an active role on peace and security, fair trade and stronger economic cooperation, sustainable development, human rights and people-to-people connectivity, especially in a region so vibrant like Southeast Asia.

Canada is proud to have been ASEAN’s Dialogue Partner since 1977, one of only ten countries with the designation. ASEAN is at the heart of Asia’s regional security architecture, and it represents one of the world’s fastest-growing economic regions. Under the Canada-ASEAN five-year Plan of Action, which is now entering its second term, Canada remains deeply committed each and every day to forge closer cooperation with ASEAN and to exemplify Canada’s strong pluralistic traditions, respect for and celebration of diversity, which are at the core of the mutual interests of Canada and ASEAN.

In this respect, we here at the Mission of Canada to ASEAN look forward to hearing from you. We hope you will find this website a helpful tool in learning more about Canada’s engagement in ASEAN. I also invite you to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CanadaASEAN to learn more about Canada’s priorities and activities in ASEAN, like us on Facebook @CanadaASEAN or contact us by e-mail at ASEAN-ANASE@international.gc.ca.

Yours sincerely,

Diedrah Kelly
Ambassador of the Mission of Canada to ASEAN

Contact information

The Permanent Mission of Canada to ASEAN is located within the Embassy of Canada in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Address

World Trade Centre I, 6th Floor
Jalan Jend. Sudirman Kav. 29-31
Jakarta 12920
Indonesia

Telephone: +62 (21) 2550 7800

Fax: +62 (21) 2550 7811

Email: ASEAN-ANASE@international.gc.ca

Postal address

P.O. Box 8324/JKS.MP
Jakarta 12084
Indonesia

Related information

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