The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, plans to launch discussions with Canada as the key economic player in the region, the group’s chair said on Friday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will represent his country at an ASEAN-Canada trade summit in Vancouver on Nov. 13-14 that will cover “the signature achievement of ASEAN’s 13th Ministerial Meeting—free trade,” the group said.
Canada has been working toward reorienting its approach toward trade pacts, arguing that new pacts will boost exports and help narrow the yawning trade deficit with China. And Trudeau, who is also due to visit the United States next month, is hoping to seek more foreign investment and create more jobs at home.
Canada has not joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact currently being negotiated by the U.S. and Japan, Australia, and 12 other countries. Instead, Ottawa has engaged in free-trade talks with the European Union, Asian nations and its neighbors.
Trudeau has said Canada could work with Washington on trade matters, but that “we would prefer the TPP is on its way as well. As they say, that is not their monopoly. We have our own agenda.”
The ASEAN nations span South Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, the South China Sea and a group that stretches from the Philippines to Madagascar.
ASEAN countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.