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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.

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.

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Canada’s relations with ASEAN

Canada became an ASEAN dialogue partner in 1977 and is one of 11 partners with this designation. Dialogue partners cooperate with ASEAN on political and security issues, regional integration, economic interests, transnational crime and counterterrorism, disaster risk reduction and other areas.

On November 12, 2022, Prime Minister Trudeau participated in the ASEAN-Canada 45th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where ASEAN and Canada committed to establish a Strategic Partnership. Establishing a Strategic Partnership recognizes Canada’s expanded presence and growing collaborative relationship with ASEAN, in alignment with Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and our mutual interests.

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.

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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. On November 16, 2021, Canada and ASEAN launched negotiations toward a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA).

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.

On November 17, 2021, Canada and the ASEAN member states met virtually and welcomed the initial progress on the realization of cooperation activities under the 2021 to 2025 Work Plan to implement the ASEAN-Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment. The meeting highlighted a number of areas, including the Canada-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Project on ASEAN small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a 5-year project providing technical support to the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSMEs to implement the ASEAN Strategic Plan on SME Development 2021 to 2025.

Negotiations toward a possible Canada-ASEAN FTA

On November 16, 2021, Canada and ASEAN agreed to proceed with negotiations toward a Canada-ASEAN FTA. In order to enhance our commercial relations and strengthen our presence in this fast-growing market, Canada is committed to negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement with ASEAN. This potential agreement would help create new market opportunities for Canadian goods and services, while supporting a more transparent and predictable environment for trade and investment.

Canada and ASEAN held a first round of negotiations in August 2022, and a second round in November 2022. A third round is tentatively scheduled for March 2023.

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 FTA with 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:

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.

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Canada’s international assistance for ASEAN

Over 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 informal settlements, 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.

As Canada works toward finalizing its Strategic Partner status in 2023, it continues to have an important role to play in advancing ASEAN’s community-building objectives under three themes:

Canada’s international 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

The regional development program focuses on the following development priorities, which are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy:

Canada’s ongoing development initiatives include Tripartite Action for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Region, Empowering Women for Sustainable Peace, strengthening ASEAN’s response to COVID-19 and improving ASEAN member states’ gender-responsive humanitarian assistance. Global Affairs Canada also has a project with the ASEAN Secretariat on the Mitigation of Biological Threats in the ASEAN region. Canada’s international assistance is aligned with the ASEAN community-building objectives and the ASEAN-Canada Action Plan (2021 to 2025). Under this plan, Canada and ASEAN are building on the progress made under the previous plan and pursuing areas of mutual interest, including in political and security, economic, socio-cultural and sustainable development cooperation.

The ASEAN regional development program works closely with ASEAN stakeholders, including the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN member states, partners, donors and Canada’s bilateral missions in all 10 ASEAN member states.

Canada-ASEAN scholarships and educational exchanges for development

In 2017, the Government of Canada launched a 5-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 2 academic sessions or 8 months) or research in Canada in fields that are relevant to ASEAN’s efforts to narrow the development gap and reduce poverty in Southeast Asia.

To date, 325 students from the ASEAN region have successfully completed a study or research exchange in Canada through the scholarship program.

For more information on scholarships and the application process, please visit Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development.

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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

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