The CABC would like to thank Minister S. Iswaran for his presence and address at the 4th CABC Business Forum 2018. Kindly find an excerpt of his speech that night below!

Minister Iswaran (Minister for Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore)

Introduction

  A very good evening to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you at the 4th Canada-ASEAN Business Council Business Forum today.

ASEAN continues to be an economic bright spot

    Last year marked the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN’s formation. ASEAN has come a long way since its founding in 1967. With its young population, growing middle class, and increasing urbanisation, the ASEAN region is an increasingly important market in the global economy, and one of the important engines of growth in Asia.

  The economic data is testament to ASEAN’s rapid growth. In the span of 50 years, ASEAN’s GDP grew from US$23 billion in 1967 to US$2.55 trillion in 2016, doubling its share of global GDP from about 3.3% to 6.2%. ASEAN’s GDP per capita also rose over the same period from US$122 to US$4,021. Today, ASEAN is the 6th largest economy in the world, with a collective market of more than 600 million consumers.  

That is the past, and I would offer to you the proposition that the future of ASEAN holds even greater promise. That is why this forum and Canada’s engagement in this region is essential. The region continues to develop rapidly, and the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 has created a more seamless business operating environment by reducing trade barriers and improving market access. ASEAN member states are presently working with six of our dialogue partners, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and New Zealand, to further deepen our regional economic integration, through the architecture of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). A more economically-integrated region will bring greater opportunities for the businesses and people of ASEAN, through the continued reduction of barriers and preferential market access. Indeed, it is expected that by 2030, if ASEAN maintains this pace of growth, it will become the fourth largest single market, after the EU, US, and China.

Deeper economic linkages between ASEAN and Canada will be mutually-beneficial 

  Canada’s ties with ASEAN are longstanding. Last year, we celebrated 40 years of ASEAN-Canada dialogue relations. Our trade and investment links have continued to grow, especially in recent years. ASEAN is Canada’s 6th largest trading partner, with two-way trade in goods amounting to US$16.5 billion (CAD$21.6 billion) in 2016. FDI flows from Canada to ASEAN totalled over US$6.5 billion (CAD$8.5 billion), and the stock of FDI from ASEAN to Canada exceeded US$760 million (CAD$1 billion) in 2016.

There is potential to facilitate greater economic cooperation and business flows. ASEAN and Canada, we believe, must continue to deepen ties and enhance our linkages. This August, we look forward to completing the Joint Feasibility Study for a potential ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement. This would be an important step in guiding the Exploratory Discussions for a potential ASEAN-Canada FTA.

 We also hope to build on the success of the inaugural ASEAN-Canada Trade Policy Dialogue held in July 2017, where ASEAN benefitted from Canada sharing its expertise and experiences in Small- and Medium- Sized Enterprises (SMEs) development. The next run of the Dialogue will be held later this year, and we look forward to fruitful discussions.

Continue reading the rest of his speech here!