Stewart Beck, president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada told Mata Press Service: “With one billion new middle-class consumers, major infrastructure investments, continued economic growth, and unprecedented regional economic integration, Asia is on track to becoming a global powerhouse.”

“The growing significance of the region – combined with the uncertainty we’ve been seeing in the global trading system thanks in large part to the Trump administration – underscores the need for Canada to strategically deepen and diversify its partnerships in the region, of which ASEAN is a critical part,” said Beck, who was the former Canadian High Commissioner to India.

“As a group, ASEAN is the seventh-largest economy in the world and Canada’s sixth-largest merchandise trading partner. The region represents more than 640 million people with a combined economy of C$2.6 trillion. So, the economic potential for Canada is clear. What’s not so clear is Canadians’ willingness to grasp the opportunity.”

“At the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, our national opinion polling indicates that Canadians are increasingly aware of the importance of trade and investment relationships with Southeast Asia. Our 2018 NOP found that Canadians show strong and growing support for a potential free trade agreement with ASEAN, with 63% showing support compared with less than 40% in 2014. That’s higher than the support for a potential FTA with China, already our second-largest trading partner, at 59%.”

Meanwhile, the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) has release The Canada Advantage, a report highlighting the benefits for ASEAN businesses through increased economic engagement with Canada. The report highlights that Canada offers a business climate with low business costs and more robust investor protections relative to most other G7 economies; this presents attractive opportunities for ASEAN-based firms looking for a gateway to the North American market.

According to the report, Canada has the strongest cost advantage relative to the US among G7 countries. It has ranked 2nd best in the G7/G20 for favourable business environment over 5 years. It also offers high level of investor protection, ranking 2nd in the G7 and 7th out of 127 countries.

Wayne Farmer, president of the CABC, said, “There has never been a more important time for ASEAN and Canada to seize the moment.”

“The foundation for the trade relationship is solid—ASEAN and Canada are two trade-dependent regions with complimentary economies and deep people-to-people ties,” he said.

Source: The Filipino Post (Read more here)