Minister Dion concludes successful visit to Cambodia and VietnamMonday, September 12, 2016 > 10:03:50
The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded his first official visits to Cambodia and Vietnam, where he built on Canada’s successful engagement throughout the region with these two important Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) partners. It is the Minister’s fourth trip to the region, and he has now visited six out of 10 ASEAN countries.
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Minister Dion officially opened Canada’s new mission, a tangible demonstration of Canada’s drive to deepen its relationship with Cambodia. Canada now has a mission in each of the 10 ASEAN countries, as well as a dedicated ambassador to ASEAN, a clear expression of Canada’s long-term commitment to the region.
The visit included discussions with Cambodia’s leaders and other members of cabinet, including the Minister for Women’s Affairs and the Minister of Environment, on the importance of people-to-people ties, sustainable growth, and peace and security in the region as the basis of shared prosperity. Minister Dion also took the occasion to visit the Opposition leader to underscore the message that an inclusive and open approach to government is the best path to progress and prosperity.
While in Cambodia, the Minister also exchanged views on how to work more closely to address the mounting challenges posed by climate change and on how to strengthen Cambodia’s growing civil society, a critical player in fostering greater respect for human rights. The Minister visited the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and saw first-hand the heroic efforts on the ground to destroy unexploded anti-personnel mines and ordnance, as well as the need for more international support for this work.
In Hanoi, Vietnam, Minister Dion discussed with Vietnam’s President, Foreign Minister and Minister of the Environment, issues such as the rule of law, human rights, trade and investment, ASEAN and regional security and expanding people-to-people ties with Canada. Minister Dion also raised the concerns Canada shares with the international community about the issue of prisoners of conscience and raised it directly with his counterparts at every opportunity.
Climate change was a constant theme throughout the visit. A $15-million initiative was announced in Vietnam that will foster innovation among Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises by funding projects tackling climate change. As the first Canadian minister of foreign affairs to travel to Can Tho, in the Mekong Delta, the Minister witnessed the fragility of the local ecosystem, one example being the rapid erosion of the delta’s low-lying areas.
Minister Dion concluded his visit to Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City, where he met with the city’s Party Secretary and the Chairman of the People's Committee to discuss bilateral issues and opportunities to work together. In Ho Chi Minh City, the Minister also had a meeting with a group of successful Vietnamese-Canadian returnees doing business in Vietnam to discuss how to increase cooperation between the city, which is Vietnam’s economic centre, and Canadian exporters and investors. The Minister also visited a flight training centre where he witnessed the success of a Montréal-based company, CAE, providing flight-simulator services. Minister Dion also visited a peacekeeping training facility.
At every stop along the way, Minister Dion met with students, academics and civil society to address issues such as social inclusion, including for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex communities, human rights and religious freedom.
“Following my first official visit to Cambodia, I can attest to the dynamism of the country and the opportunities it brings for enhanced people-to-people ties and cooperation between our two nations on critical issues from trade to security to human rights.”
- Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
“My first official visit to Vietnam has been extremely productive. There is so much unexplored potential in our relationship. I addressed important bilateral and regional issues with my political counterparts, witnessed first-hand the consequences of climate change and water management challenges, discussed our shared economic interests with leading business people, and addressed universal human rights at every occasion, including with local NGOs.”
- Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
• Canada opened a diplomatic office in Phnom Penh in September 2015.
• Two-way merchandise trade with Cambodia was worth more than $1 billion in 2015, an increase of almost 27 percent over the previous year.
• Canada is home to more than 30,000 people of Cambodian heritage.
• Cambodia has been an ASEAN member since 1999, and Canada has been an ASEAN dialogue partner since 1977.
• Canada established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1973.
• Canada opened an embassy in Hanoi in 1994 and a consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City in 1997.
• In 2013, Canada and Vietnam celebrated the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations.
• There is an active, 220,000+ strong Vietnamese-Canadian community in Canada.
• Two-way merchandise trade totalled $4.7 billion in 2015, which makes Vietnam Canada’s 16th-largest merchandise trade partner.
• With near 7-percent growth, Vietnam ranks among the fastest-growing markets in the world.