The ASEAN member nations and  Canada, through their Economic Ministers  virtually met on 17 November 2021 for a consultation during the 10th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting. The Minister of Finance and Economy of  Brunei Darussalam,  H.E. Amin Liew Abdullah, and the Canadian Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Hon. Mary Ng, co-chaired the Meeting.

It was noted that despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global economy, bilateral trade between ASEAN Member States and Canada remain strong. According to Canada’s statistics, in 2020, total two-way merchandise trade was valued at USD 19.9-B, reflecting a slight decrease of 2.4% year-on-year. At the end of 2020, foreign direct investment (FDI) from Canada to ASEAN Member States reached USD12.5-B, or an increase of 11.7% year-on-year, while FDI from ASEAN Member States to Canada was USD1.2-B, or a decrease of 0.9% year-on-year.

The meeting reaffirmed the continued commitment to explore ways and means to accelerate economic recovery from COVID-19 by keeping markets open for trade and investment and strengthening cooperation on supply chain connectivity, digital trade and sustainable development, among other areas. It underscored the importance of global cooperation, including in ensuring equitable access and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, and welcomed Canada’s commitment of a further 9.5 million items of personal protective equipment (valued at approximately CAD39.4-M) and the contribution to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.

Following the significant progress achieved to advance an ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA), both sides agreed to launch the negotiations for an ASEAN-Canada FTA.  This represents a significant milestone in the ASEAN-Canada relationship and a meaningful step in Canada’s renewed commitment to trade and economic engagement in the region. The Meeting tasked officials to develop a work plan to move the negotiations forward as soon as possible. The Ministers also held a discussion with representatives of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council (CABC) where it noted the Council’s recommendation on the ASEAN-Canada FTA negotiations, the reopening of borders and vaccine roll out in ASEAN. It commended CABC for its continuous commitment in strengthening ASEAN-Canada business-to-business relations through its various activities-despite the challenging pandemic situation.

Date of Release: 22 November 2021