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Canada's envoy to ASEAN expected to boost trade, investmentThursday, August 28, 2014 > 09:01:01
ASEAN economic ministers have welcomed Canada's plan to establish a mission and name a dedicated ambassador to the regional grouping, and hope that the move will boost trade and investment between the region and the North American country.
"These new resources [a mission and an ambassador] will be an important addition to the ASEAN-Canada economic relationship," the economic ministers said in a joint statement after the 3rd ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-Canada Consultations on Wednesday.
They were commenting on the Aug.4 announcement by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird about the plan to establish a diplomatic mission to ASEAN. The mission, which will be located within the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta, will be headed by a dedicated ambassador.
Currently, the Canadian ambassador to ASEAN is Donald Bobiash, who is also serving as the ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste.
According to Baird, the ASEAN region is a key economic, political and security partner for Canada.
“Canada has been one of the longest-serving Dialogue Partners of ASEAN and has worked hard to enhance and foster this important relationship," Baird said in a statement on the website of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
During his trip to Southeast Asia earlier this month, Baird visited the ASEAN Secretariat - the first-ever visit of a Canadian foreign minister to the secretariat in Jakarta.
“Canada’s mission to ASEAN will significantly bolster our diplomatic footprint in the region and will build on the momentum of the Canada-ASEAN relationship,” he added.
So far, the two-way trade and direct investment of the two economies has shown robust development. Quoting Canadian statistics, the joint ministerial statement on Wednesday highlighted Canada-ASEAN trade, which reached a record level of US$16.5 billion in 2013. That amount represents a $5.8 billion trade surplus for ASEAN.
In addition, Canada's direct investment in Southeast Asia reached $5.7 billion at the end of 2013, an increase of 34 percent year-on-year. Canada's direct investment in the region now exceeds that in neighboring economies like China, Hong Kong, Japan and India.
The ministers also lauded Canada for its continued support of ASEAN’s regional integration efforts, in particular the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and praised the North American country for its commitment to developing sectoral cooperation under the ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership Program.
The officials agreed to meet again next year in Kuala Lumpur, with the main objective to adopt the new Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment Work Plan.
In the meantime, the ministers also gave appreciation to the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) for its role in promoting ASEAN-Canada trade and investment.
During the meeting, the council proposed an ASEAN supply chain platform to support the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the region.
In the same meeting, Indonesian Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi reported the outcome of a recent regular roadshow of government officials and business players of ASEAN countries to Canada.
"The roadshow aims at improving the relations of government officials and business players from the two economies," he said.
Regarding business and investment, Lutfi highlighted the importance of improving connectivity between ASEAN and Canada, particularly through the availability of direct flights between cities in ASEAN and Canada, institutional cooperation and people-to-people business.
Earlier on Wednesday Lutfi also met several American business players grouped in the US ASEAN Business Council (USABC). Responding to the queries, Lutfi said Indonesia was confident ASEAN would develop into a solid economy that would create many opportunities for American businesspeople.
"As a single market and a production base, ASEAN will offer business opportunities to all multinational companies," he said.