Canada & ASEAN Grow Closer

Recently ASEAN and Canada reaffirmed commitment to further deepen cooperation in areas of mutual interests at the 17th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue held via videoconference. As Canada & ASAN grow closer the hope is both sides will benefit from more trade and deeper economic and cultural ties.

Senior officials from ASEAN and Canada took note of the growing cooperation between the two sides across the three ASEAN Community pillars and were pleased to note that all action lines in the current Plan of Action (2016-2020) had been addressed.

Both sides looked forward to advancing their dialogue relations with the adoption of the new Plan of Action (2021-2025) at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference Plus One Session with Canada, next month.

The meeting took note of Canada’s continued desire to elevate its dialogue relations with ASEAN to a strategic-level as well as its interest to participate in the East Asia Summit and the activities of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus at an appropriate time.

The meeting appreciated Canada’s active involvement and contribution in the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime Plus Canada Consultation, and its initiatives such as the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development.

Further, the meeting agreed to deepen collaboration in areas of (i) trade and investment;  through exploring the possibility of an ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement, (ii) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises development, (iii) public health, (iv) transnational crime, (v) cybersecurity, (vi) smart cities, (vii) Information, Communication Technology, and (viii) education and women empowerment.

ASEAN appreciated Canada’s support in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, through its Mitigation of Biological Threats Phase 2 (2019 – 2022) and the provision of personal protective equipment amounting to CAN$ 4.5 million in June, among other initiatives.

Once finalised, ASEAN looked forward to Canada’s possible support to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and the ASEAN comprehensive recovery plan.

Both sides also discussed regional issues of common concerns, and shared the importance of strengthening maritime security cooperation through Maritime Domain Awareness, and explore cooperation under the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific.

They underscored the need to uphold an open, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture as well as multilateral trading system.

Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Foreign Affairs Ministry U Soe Han and Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific of Canadian Global Affairs Paul Thoppil co-chaired the Dialogue which was attended by ASEAN Senior Officials or their representatives, and the Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Political Security Community.

The ASEAN-Canada Dialogue remains to be an important mechanism to discuss strategic issues of common interests and concerns between the two sides. As Canada & ASAN grow closer these discussions become even more important.