– With a population of over 600 million and combined GDP of over US $2.5 trillion, ASEAN represents a logical opportunity for Canada’s trade diversification into Asia – 

[Canada/Singapore, 15 May, 2017] The Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) today announces the release of the ASEAN Advantage, a new report providing a compelling argument for the implementation of a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement. The report is a joint project between the CABC, the Asia Pacific Foundation (APF), the Business Council of Canada (BCC), the University of British Columbia (UBC), and with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).


The report indicates that a trade deal with ASEAN, benchmarked on the terms of the successful Australia – New Zealand – ASEAN agreement (AANZFTA) reached in 2012, could add an additional C$11 billion in annual bi-lateral trade between the two regions by 2027, with roughly equal benefits to both trading partners. The findings are a timely support for the ongoing drafting of terms of reference for a free-trade agreement between Canada and ASEAN, announced following the ASEAN Economic Minister’s (AEM) meeting in Laos, August 2016.

A Canada-ASEAN agreement should push for a more modernized agreement than AANZFTA, to ensure deeper benefits for key sectors to Canadians, such as services. The implementation of a robust trade promotion program with ASEAN by the Canadian Government in advance of an agreement would also be key to maximizing its benefits.

“In a time of increasing protectionism and sluggish global growth, it’s crucial for Canada to maintain a competitive edge by pursuing meaningful agreements with like-minded trading partners,” mentioned CABC President Wayne Farmer. “Our report highlights the great success that iconic Canadian companies such as Manulife, with it’s 116-year history in the region, can find in ASEAN. Besides supporting these Canadian champions in the region, a Canada-ASEAN agreement will also serve as a catalyst for greater success for Canadian SMEs.”

ASEAN’s 10 member-states, many with deep people-to-people ties to Canada, represent a key pillar of the Asia economic growth story. The report’s results also posit the impact of a Canada-ASEAN agreement as comparable to that which Canada could seek to achieve with other major partners/agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or a Canada-China deal.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Canada-ASEAN diplomatic relations, in addition to Canada’s 150th anniversary – an opportune moment for the Federal Government to double down in pursuit of an ASEAN trade deal, and to capitalize on the Canadian public’s general favourability towards the region to build broad support for a formal agreement.

Key Facts:

  • The ten ASEAN member-states include: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • ASEAN has a population of over 600 million, with combined GDP of over US $2.5 trillion.
  • Canada has strong people-to-people ties with ASEAN – for example, there are over 660,000 ethnic Filipinos living in Canada
  • ASEAN is young (median age of 28.8 in 2015), with three of the word’s ten fastest growing economies: Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
  • Canada has diplomatic representation in all ten ASEAN nations, including a dedicated Canadian Ambassador to ASEAN, based in Jakarta.