Following is the transcript of a First On CNBC interview with Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade of Canada. The interview was broadcast on CNBC on 23 March 2018.

Interviewed by CNBC’s Bernie Lo, Akiko Fujita and Oriel Morrison.

Bernie Lo (BL): Joining us on the program is Francois-Philippe Champagne. He’s Canada’s minister of international trade. Joining us from Singapore, where he’s meeting with region officials and promoting Canada’s – ironically steel and aluminum industries after attending the Canada ASEAN Business Council forum. Minister, thank you very much for joining us on the program. From one up from one native Canadian.

Francois-Philippe Champagne: Good morning.

BL: Welcome. A big big big Canadian welcome to the program. You must be glad you’re not China’s minister of international trade this morning, sir.

Francois-Philippe Champagne: Well listen, first of all thank you very much for that warm welcome. Delighted to be in Singapore, you know Asia-Pacific is a very important region for Canada. We’re very much a Pacific nation and being in the region, strengthening our ties with ASEAN, with Singapore, with the CPTPP bloc of countries, obviously is a priority for us. For me to be in Singapore this morning is a testament of Canada’s resolve to be very much present in this part of the world

Read the rest of the transcript from CNBC here!