The Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) took part in high-level events surrounding the 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from September 14-18th.

The CABC started its engagements by attending the 20th ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Meeting with other Joint Business Councils, hosted by H.E. Neak Oknha Kith Meng, Chairman, ASEAN Business Advisory Council 2022. As part of the ASEAN-BAC Working Groups, the CABC contributed to the strategic discussion areas for AEM action including healthcare, green energy transition, digital transformation, supply chain connectivity and resilience, small and medium enterprise (SME) support and development, and digital trade. 

On September 17th, the CABC presented recommendations at the 11th AEM-Canada Consultationthe most important trade meeting between ASEAN and Canada – as the voice of the Canadian private sector, alongside the delegation from Global Affairs Canada. The CABC’s delegation was led by President Wayne Farmer, and included Mr. Dominic Jacques, the Deputy Vice-President of International Development at the National Bank of Canada, Mr. Robert Elliott, the Chairman of Manulife Cambodia, and Ms. Olivia Lee, the Chief Representative, Southeast Asia, at Export Development Canada. 

                              CABC Delegation (left to right): Ms. Nicky Lung, Executive Director, CABC; Mr. Robert Elliott, Chairman, Manulife Cambodia; Mr. Wayne Farmer, President, CABC; Ms. Danielle Todesco, Business Development Manager, CABC; Ms. Olivia Lee, Chief Representative, Southeast Asia, Export Development Canada; Mr. Dominic Jacques, Deputy Vice-President, International Development, National Bank of Canada. 

On behalf of the private sector, the CABC advocated for the acceleration of negotiations for the Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Canada-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and their timely implementation. Once implemented, the Canada-ASEAN FTA is projected to yield bilateral trade gains of up to 4.3 billion dollars, according to the C.D. Howe Institute. The CABC welcomed the recently completed first round of negotiations for a Canada-ASEAN FTA, and encouraged all parties to adopt a pragmatic, creative, and timely approach in the negotiations.

The CABC also voiced recommendations in the areas of trade liberalisation, business and investment flows, energy transition, and digital economy development, and encouraged active involvement from businesses in advancing the FTA negotiations.

The CABC believes that identifying priority areas for more collaboration between ASEAN and Canada to achieve tangible outcomes are vital. Some of these areas include healthcare, energy security, food security, infrastructure, decarbonization and the digital economy – areas in which Canadian firms hold immense expertise, solutions, and technologies which can be leveraged. 

The CABC thanks our members, Global Affairs Canada, the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Member States (AMS), and the Royal Government of Cambodia as the 2023 ASEAN Chair for their support and partnership of our mission in driving deeper Canada-ASEAN relations. The Council looks forward to working with Indonesia as the 2023 ASEAN Chair.

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“The Indo-Pacific region is key for Canada’s economic growth, prosperity and security. Deepening our trade ties with ASEAN will benefit Canadian businesses and workers, create good middle class jobs across the country, and generate strong, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth. That is why I am back in Cambodia to strengthen Canada-ASEAN relations and support a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, with ASEAN at its core.”

– Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, at the 11-th AEM-Canada Consultation 

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On the same evening, the CABC hosted a Canada-Cambodia Networking Reception, convening over 50 senior-level business and government leaders from Canada, Cambodia, and the rest of ASEAN, including the Honourable Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, and H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Cambodia’s Minister of Women’s Affairs.

The Ministers met and discussed issues including the empowerment of women, and reiterated their joint commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs and MSMEs. In her remarks, Minister Ng announced that Canada will be the main external partner in the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Conference to be held in Cambodia next month.

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The reception served as a platform to facilitate new connections and lay the foundation for more partnerships between Canada, Cambodia, and the rest of ASEAN. The event featured a presentation from the ABA Bank Chief Digital Officer, Mr. Zokhir Rasulov, on the bank’s contribution to digital banking transformation and financial inclusion in Cambodia as a part of the National Bank of Canada Group. This also helped to raise awareness for the many untapped opportunities in the country for Canadian business and investors. 

The CABC also welcomed representatives from leading companies and organisations including Manulife, National Bank of Canada, ABA Bank, Export Development Canada, the Cambodia Internet Startups Association (CISA), and the Cambodian Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEAC).

The CABC thanks our main sponsor for this event, ABA Bank, and the kind contributions of our supporters, Haystack Fund, the Canadian International School of Phnom Penh, the Olympia Medical Group, Intercare Medical Center, and Dara Hotels for making this event possible. 

Read the AEM Joint Media Statement [here]

Read the Global Affairs Canada Press Release [here]

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