Jakarta, 2 October 2011

Her Excellency Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu, Minister of Trade, Indonesia and Chair of ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting,

His Excellency Mr. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, Canada,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Good evening.

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to witness another significant milestone in ASEAN’s relationship with Canada, one of ASEAN’s oldest Dialogue Partners. The ASEAN-Canada dialogue relations go way back to 1977, when the first ASEAN-Canada meeting was held. ASEAN was then hardly ten years old and comprised only five member countries.

Since then, the dialogue partnership between ASEAN and Canada has widened and deepened through various cooperation agreements such as the ASEAN-Canada Economic Cooperation Agreement (1981), Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism (2006), Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership (2009), the accession of Canada to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia (2010) and the ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership (2010-2015). ASEAN and Canada will celebrate the 35th Anniversary of their relations in 2012.

Canada is ASEAN’s 13th largest trading partner and 9th largest source of FDI. Indeed, trade between ASEAN and Canada grew at a significant pace, recording annual average growth of 21% between 2005 and 2008. Due to the global financial crisis and economic downturn, trade flows dipped to 15.8% in 2009 but showed signs of recovery in 2010 with total trade amounting to US$9.8 billion, an increase of 8.6% over the previous year.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) flow from Canada to ASEAN increased more than two folds in 2010 amounting to USD 1.6 billion, after a decline of 38.4% in 2009. In 2009, the total tourist arrivals to ASEAN from Canada were 1.41 million.

The Joint Declaration between ASEAN and Canada on Trade and Investment, which will be adopted by ASEAN and Canada today, through the exchange of letters, affirms ASEAN and Canada’s commitment to strengthen trade and economic relations. Canada is a big potential market for businesses in ASEAN due to her rich natural resources and as a gateway into the North American market through the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Joint Declaration was endorsed by the ASEAN Economic Ministers at their 43rd meeting in August 2011 in Manado, Indonesia. The Joint Declaration, which is also a key outcome stated in the ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action, aims to, among others:

(a) enhance trade, industrial cooperation and investment;

(b) promote and facilitate increased involvement of the business sector, in particular small and medium-scale enterprises;

(c) promote greater coordination in the WTO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum; and

(d) develop a mechanism for regular exchanges of information on trade and investment opportunities and other promotional activities related to trade and investment.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Since the adoption of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint in November 2007, ASEAN has been making steady progress towards the realisation of the AEC which is premised on four pillars namely, the single market and production base, a competitive ASEAN, equitable economic development and integration into the global economy. The Joint Declaration between ASEAN-Canada Trade and Investment is timely as ASEAN gears towards deepening its economic integration and enhancing its linkages with its trading partners. The AEC is based on open regionalism and deepening trade and economic ties with our partners is an integral part of ASEAN’s economic community building. The AEC will provide trade, economic and business opportunities for ASEAN, Canada and other trading partners to tap on.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure now to invite Her Excellency Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu and His Excellency Mr. Ed Fast to deliver their remarks and thereafter exchange letters of adoption. Thank you.