In an effort to boost dialogue cooperation with Canada, during his official visit to Toronto that completed yesterday, ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan spoke at the Asia Pacific Foundation (APE) on the “Role of ASEAN in the Asia’s Rise: A place in an Asia Strategy for Canada”. The Talk was co-hosted by APF and the Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. The Hon. Pierre S. Pittigrew, Former Foreign Minister of Canada, Member of APF’s Futures Group on Asia and Executive Advisor of International Deloitte, gave a welcome remark; meanwhile Mr. George J. Heller, Board Manager of APF and Chairman of Investment Committee of APF, moderated the talk. The event was attended by CEOs, scholars from Toronto University, dignitaries, and Consul-General and Trade Representative of ASEAN Member States in Toronto.

Dr Surin discussed how a steady growth of ASEAN economy and peaceful and stable region is the ideal option for countries such as Canada to enhance trade and investment cooperation with ASEAN. ASEAN, a market of 600 million people with a combination of ten boutique economies, and the rising middle class, could be a good market and opportunity for Canada to promote its potentials and do more business in the region. He stressed that the rising middle class is a potential purchasing power which look for better quality of life, better education for their children, good services and better communication. Canada already has a trademark of quality, what it needs to do more is to expose itself to the region–promoting its potential and expertise to invest and do trade in the region.

“Canada has strong potential in soft power, multiculturalism and rich experience in the areas of peace keeping and peace building, human rights, democratic and good governance. Canada could make its presence in the ASEAN region felt stronger through investing in its high quality education as a trading commodity as done by other developed countries. Canada’s investment in high quality education would contribute to people to people connectivity—helping ASEAN to build up capacity for its young business leaders as well as its community,” said Dr Surin. He also noted that Canada should demonstrate its interest and commitment toward the ASEAN region further as there are mechanisms which have already been established such as the ASEAN-Canada Business Council (ACBC), the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) with Canada, ASEAN Regional Forum and other fora, which Canada could make use to promote its profile in the region.

As part of outreach activities, Dr. Surin accepted interviews with three TV stations: “Programme with Steve Paikin” on Ontario TV, “Market Sense” on Business News Network, and Canada TV (CTV).

Please click here for the ASEAN-Canada Joint Statement.