“An agreement (early) … would strengthen trade flows and opening negotiations would send a very positive signal to markets at a time when uncertainty is tarnishing all horizons. In 2017, Canada and ASEAN member states began exploratory discussions on a possible canada-ASEAN free trade agreement. As part of these discussions, Canada and ASEAN conducted a joint feasibility study on a possible Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement to assess the potential economic benefits of a potential Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement. The Government of Canada has also held public consultations on the Canada Gazette to seek canadians` views on a possible free trade agreement with ASEAN. Canada and ASEAN announced exploratory discussions on a possible Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement on September 10, 2019, at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (MEA) and Canada`s consultations in Bangkok, Thailand. Canada and ASEAN are parties to the Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment (2011), which provides Canada and ASEAN member states with a platform to exchange information on trade and investment opportunities and strengthen trade engagement. We are not the only ones who think that the time has come to make a deal. Studies by the Canadian Asia-Pacific Foundation in early 2018 showed that 63% of Canadians support a free trade agreement with ASEAN, up from only 40% in 2014.
Support for a similar agreement with China was only 59%. More dramatically, Australia`s trade with ASEAN countries increased by 9% in 2017 compared to 2016, reaching $100 billion. Australia and New Zealand will see further increases in exports of raw materials, tourism and education. Meanwhile, trade in three economic corridors could exceed $230 billion by 2025. Swan and Ciuriak call on Canada and ASEAN to begin trade negotiations quickly and “implement such a trade agreement as soon as possible.” Canada`s trade and investment in Southeast Asia is growing rapidly – not only in volume, but also in many sectors, including oil and gas, mining, advanced technologies, telecommunications, agri-food, financial services, aeronautics and consumer goods. Two of the ASEAN countries are already part of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for the Trans-Pacific Trans-Pacific Partnership and are linked to Canada as a free trade partner. This experience could help other ASEAN members understand how improving trade and investment between Canada and Asian countries could have benefits rather than dangers. CmE fully adheres to Canada`s free trade agenda and we have the utmost confidence in our trade negotiators to preserve favourable conditions for Canada under an agreement with ASEAN countries. The central question of this consultation is how Canada should best act on a possible free trade agreement with ASEAN.