Canada eyes free trade with ASEAN

Canada wants free trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the country’s Trade Minister Jim Carr on August 27 on the eve of his trip to Thailand and Singapore.

Trade Minister of Canada Jim Carr (Source: Reuters/Chris Wattie)

Trade Minister of Canada Jim Carr (Source: Reuters/Chris Wattie)

Expanding to the Southeast Asia region will help Canadian businesses access one of the world's fastest-growing markets, he said in a statement.

A deal with ASEAN, which includes Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, would give Canada access to 650 million consumers.

The minister’s comments followed a breakthrough in US-Mexico talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The development has led to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland cutting short a European trip to rejoin trilateral NAFTA negotiations in Washington DC.

Carr’s August 28-30 trip aims to promote bilateral trade and investment with Thailand and Singapore and push for free trade with ASEAN. Thailand and Singapore, along with Canada, are expected to soon ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Canada is also eyeing free trade with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, which form the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) bloc. The country has also suggested a trade deal with China is underway, which if successful would make Canada the first western nation to reach a free trade agreement with the world’s second largest economy.-VNA

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