OTTAWA, 10 May 2017 – The strong partnership between ASEAN and Canada will be further strengthened through closer cooperation and collaboration in the years ahead. This commitment was reaffirmed at the 14th ASEAN-Canada Dialogue held in Ottawa on 8 May.
This year marks the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Canada relations, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN and the 150th Anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Both sides discussed several celebratory activities to commemorate this milestone year.
ASEAN and Canadian members attending the 14th Dialogue noted the significant growth in cooperation and collaboration between both sides over the years, and agreed to explore new opportunities to further strengthen and deepen the partnership.
ASEAN-Canada cooperation has grown to cover a broad spectrum of areas covering political-security, trade and investment, human rights, climate change, disaster risk management, environment as well as connectivity. ASEAN has benefitted significantly from the technical cooperation and capacity building programmes offered by Canada over the years.
In her remarks, Ambassador Hellen B. De La Vega, Acting SOM Leader of the Philippines and coordinator of ASEAN-Canada Dialogue Relations emphasised that the common and shared values of ASEAN and Canada bind the enduring partnership. In describing Canada as “a good and great friend of ASEAN”, Ambassador De La Vega said ASEAN appreciated Canada’s help in making the region and its citizens safer by way of capacity building and sharing of best practices in countering transnational security challenges. She also pointed out that the economic and commercial exchanges between the two are also growing and the people-to-people ties lend a strong impetus to closer cooperation.
Ambassador Donald Bobiash, Assistant Deputy Minister for Asia Pacific of Global Affairs Canada, said that Canada looks forward to continuing its cooperation “as we build the peace, stability and security in Southeast Asia that allows all of our countries to prosper together.” He further added that “Canada is more engaged with ASEAN than ever and I am especially pleased to note the progress we are making in exploring a potential free trade agreement.”
Both sides had a candid discussion on recent developments in the regional and international environment including strategic issues of common concern, such as the global economic environment, extremism and radicalisation, transnational crimes and agreed to strengthen cooperation and work together to counter these challenges.
The longstanding partnership between ASEAN and Canada was also highlighted during a luncheon address by H.E. Ian Shugart, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. Southeast Asians, he said, have an important place in Canada’s rich cultural heritage as more than one million people from the region call Canada home. ASEAN and Canada’s respective diversities “makes us friends and stronger partners”, he added.
The Dialogue is an annual meeting of ASEAN and Canadian Senior Officials normally convened before the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meet their Dialogue Partner counterparts during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting/Post Ministerial Conferences.
The 14th Dialogue was co-chaired by Ambassador Hellen B. De La Vega and Ambassador Donald Bobiash, and attended by senior representatives from ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat.