Despite recent trade headwinds from our largest trading partner—the United States—and challenges to our dialogue on China trade expansion, Canada has completed encouraging trade deals, including:

  • Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement
  • Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union
  • Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

All will help Canada diversify trade and improve market access around the world. But there’s one important piece missing—Southeast Asia. Canada and the 10-nation pact known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been exploring the idea of a free trade agreement for several years. In our opinion, now is the time to strike.

Made up of Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos, ASEAN represents a dynamic region with many emerging economies, making it an ideal trading partner for Canada. If Canada signed a deal with ASEAN, it would have access to a market of more than 642 million consumers with a combined economy of $2.8 trillion. With an average annual GDP growth of 5.4% in recent years, ASEAN is now the fifth largest economy in the world and on track to become the fourth largest by 2030, after the U.S., China and the European Union.

As the voice of the Canadian private sector in ASEAN, Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) advocates for policies that enable our best possible trading relationship. When it comes to the regions that ASEAN may consider as its next key trade partner, Canada is a natural first choice. And it works both ways.

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French version is available here.