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How to secure Canada’s place in Asia: a road map

by Staff   

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The Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada has formulated a detailed plan to avoid recent global economic weakness and leverage Canada's capabilities in Asia

Vancouver—Canada’s economic success in Asia hinges on broad engagement across economics, politics security and cultural issues, according to a taskforce report published today by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

Coming on the eve of the Prime Minister’s trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in Russia, the report identifies 17 priorities to foster a prosperous Asian relationship.

These priorities are split into three segments:

  • develop a flexible and dynamic strategy to inform and guide Canada’s participation in key Asian institutions;
  • advance Canada’s overall objectives through visible and sustained participation in regional institutions
  • pursue a trade and investment strategy on parallel tracks with bilateral and regional trade agreements

Securing Canada’s Place in Asia: Institutions, Means and Mechanisms is co-authored by Don Campbell, senior strategy advisor to Davis LLP; Paul Evans, professor of Asian international relations at the University of British Columbia; and Pierre Lortie, senior business advisor at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.


“The challenge now is for Canada to sustain and build on its foothold in Asia through a more coherent strategy that utilizes bilateral and regional processes,” said Campbell. “Currently, Canada is either not present or on the margins of some key institutions.”

Canada is currently a member of APEC, a dialogue partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). It also participates in non-official forums such as the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Canada is currently not a member of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting or the East Asia Summit. Canada is awaiting final approval to join the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations but has not concluded a single free trade agreement with any Asian country.

“Some might question the value of Canada joining process-filled forums in Asia, but keep in mind that the rules of engagement in Asia are different,” said Campbell. “Being active participants at these tables is critical to building long-term trust with Asian counterparts. This is ultimately vital to Canada’s long-term prosperity.”

Indeed, the report recognizes that contributing is as important as receiving in the Asian mindset. Thus, success on the trade and investment front requires a greater Canadian presence and participation in a broad spectrum of multilateral and bilateral processes.

Some of the report’s key recommendations include:

  • Regularly convene a coordinating unit of  senior government officials and non-government stakeholders.
  • Formalize and sustain a bilateral dialogue with the U.S. focused on Asia.
  • Strengthen existing bilateral talks with partners including China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia.
  • Seek early admission into the East Asia Summit.
  • Volunteer to chair and host APEC in 2017.
  • Seek admission into the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting.
  • Consider appointing a Canadian Ambassador dedicated to ASEAN.
  • Conclude a free trade agreement with South Korea.
  • Pursue as a top priority comprehensive economic partnership negotiations with Japan.
  • Move towards a trade agreement with China.
  • Conclude trade negotiations with India.
  • Secure final approval for participation in the TPP negotiations.

The Regional Architecture Taskforce was created as part of APF Canada’s National Conversation on Asia (NCA). This report is the second in a series of taskforce reports to be released as part of the NCA. This project aims to get Canadians thinking and talking about what Asia means to Canada.

Read the full PDF report at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s web site.


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