In partnership with the University of Calgary School of Public Policy and York University’s Schulich School of Business, an invitation only roundtable was hosted at York University, in Toronto, Ontario, on March 30th, 2017. The all day roundtable featured keynote remarks by Ambassador Marie-Louise Hannan, and the CABC’s Honorary Chairman Jean Charest . Ambassador Hannan’s insightful opening keynote posed an inspiring question that guided the conversation of the day, “Are we ready to get serious about ASEAN?” The Ambassador shared her Mission’s support of Canada’s commitment to explore the feasibility of a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement. The audience also enjoyed highlights of the Mission’s first year in ASEAN, and their diligent work in advancing Canada’s interest in the ASEAN region.

During the lunchtime keynote, Jean Charest passionately accentuated the optimism and positivity felt within the business community towards the opportunity in the ASEAN region. Describing ASEAN as a major growth area, Mr. Charest reiterated the importance in focusing efforts on further developing relations with the region. Mr. Charest also highlighted and applauded the Ministry of International Trade’s commitment to explore the feasibility of a free trade agreement with ASEAN. He advocated that Canada is ready for a free trade agreement, and encouraged the private sector to be vocal in campaigning interest in a major trade relationship with ASEAN.

In addition to the keynote addresses, the roundtable featured panels on: The Opportunity in SE Asia, Building Financial Capacity in SE Asia, and FinTech & Future Trends. Impactful dialogue and debate by industry leaders and experts in each panel provided a valuable learning opportunity for the audience. Summarizing an insightful day, the more than 50 in attendance shared a common voice in answering Ambassador Hannan, “Yes! We are ready to get serious about ASEAN.”