On Wednesday morning of May 25th, the CABC kicked-off its transition back to in-person programming with a hybrid event, ASEAN as Canada’s Key to the Indo-Pacific: Implications for Businesses, which was held at the Shangri-La in Singapore and broadcasted live virtually.
The CABC was honoured to have received over 320 virtual registrations and convened in-person over 60 senior-level public and private sector representatives who are driving trade and businesses between Canada and ASEAN, and to provide a platform for guests to both reconnect and form new relationships during the networking session. We would like to especially thank TD Bank, Sun Life, and Global Affairs Canada for their partnership in making this event possible.
This event is part of the CABC’s 2022 Leadership Series, held in partnership with the Government of Canada with support from the seven Canadian Chambers of Commerce/Business Councils in ASEAN.
The CABC welcomed three Guests of Honour: the Hon. Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Minister Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, and H.E. Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community, who offered the keynote addresses.
Minister Mary Ng spoke to the recent announcement of the Canadian Trade Gateway in Southeast Asia, which is an ambitious plan under the Canadian Government that will leverage Singapore as a hub and catapult for Canadians to access market opportunities in the region. The Minister also noted the importance of the input from Canadian businesses in the design phase of this initiative, in order to ensure its long-term success.
“Whether it is recovering from COVID or dealing with the effects of the War in the Ukraine, Canada, Singapore, and ASEAN countries must continue to work closely together to deepen trade links, and also support the rules-based trading system, here in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.” – the Hon. Minister Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.
“Singapore and Canada are natural partners for trade and investment. We share a long-standing relationship, and are like-minded in many areas. This serves as a strong foundation for us to continue building bridges between our countries, and ensure our economic ties continue to bring benefits to our countries and our people.” -Minister Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry.
This comes shortly after Canada’s submission of a formal request to launch negotiations for accession to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) – which will offer Canada the opportunity to work with counties such as Singapore on removing barriers to digital trade and transformation. In his remarks, Minister Gan Kim Yong spoke to the ambitious goals of the DEPA, and noted the importance of Canada-ASEAN collaboration on key issues of importance to Singapore, such as digitalisation and sustainability.
These remarks both celebrated the immense progress that Canada-ASEAN relations have made since becoming dialogue partners in 1977, and also touched upon the untapped opportunities that are available for Canadian businesses due to the unique advantages of Singapore and the emerging markets in ASEAN.
“For the business community, the Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (FTA) clearly offers immense opportunity to gain new market access, in a much more secure, transparent, and legally binding framework.” – H.E. Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community.
To speak further to untapped trade and business opportunities, the event welcomed a presentation on the benefits of a Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement by Mr. Dan Ciuriak, the Director and Principal, Ciuriak Consulting Inc., and Fellow-in-Residence with the C.D. Howe Institute. Mr. Ciuriak emphasised the unrealised gains in terms of trade and investment that Canada and ASEAN stand to make – to the benefit of not only the private sectors, but for all citizens due to expected GDP and job gains. A full report including the economic analysis can be viewed [here].
The panel was moderated by Ms. Mary Elizabeth Chelliah, the Principal Trade Specialist at Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, and featured a number of distinguished speakers and experts, including:
- H.E. Ambassador Sarah Taylor, Ambassador of Canada to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia;
- Mr. Jeff Nankivell, President and CEO, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada;
- Mr. Mark Agnew, Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce;
- Mr. Murray Hiebert, Head of Research, Bower Group Asia; and
- Mr. Joy Rankothge. Business Development Lead Asia – Strategy, Export Development Canada
The panellists not only touched upon the economic importance of ASEAN to Canada, but the opportunities for collaboration on issues of shared importance, such as the transition to net-zero, as Canada and ASEAN explore further trade liberalisation.
The panel offered insights into the many lucrative opportunities available for Canadians in the fast-growing markets of Southeast Asia, and explored why more Canadians should explore opportunities in these countries – especially in key sectors of strength such as agriculture, services, technology, and healthcare.
Other than a destination for trade diversification, the panellists also noted ASEAN’s strategic importance to Canada, and vice versa, amidst the growing anxiety over geopolitical tensions and developments that affect global supply chains. The need to develop more organic networks between Canada and ASEAN was emphasised, in order to increase education, awareness building, and people-to-people ties. Going forward, it was emphasised that the private sector will play a key role in advocating for regulatory and trade policies that reduce barriers to doing business.
The CABC thanks everyone who participated in this event, whether physically or virtually. We look forward to hosting the remaining events in the 2022 Series, and providing a platform to drive conversations and actions that promote further economic integration between Canada and ASEAN.
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