Canada and the 10-country block are exploring negotiations for a free trade agreement
By Diego Flammini
Members of Canada’s ag industry are pleased with the federal government’s actions to engage with a block of Asian countries on a potential free trade agreement.
On Nov. 16, Trade Minister Mary Ng announced Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to have discussions towards a free trade deal.
This trade deal would create opportunities for businesses, secure market access for Canadian products and create jobs, Minister Ng said.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association welcomed the news of the trade discussions.
Free trade is an important part of the Canadian beef sector’s economic success,” said CCA President Bob Lowe said in a statement. “We’re pleased to see progression with ASEAN and look forward to opening new markets for Canadian beef exports.”
As did the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.
The ASEAN countries make up a market of more than 640 million people and a GDP of about $3.6 trillion.
Multiple opportunities are available for Canadian ag products to take advantage of this market access, said Dan Darling, president of CAFTA.
“Several agriculture and agri-food segments stand to benefit from an ambitious Canada-ASEAN pact including canola, beef, pork, pulses, cereals, oilseeds, malt and processed foods,” he said in a statement. “Removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers may also provide long term opportunity for sugar-containing products and processed food products.”
CAFTA would like to see negotiations begin early next year.
Established in 1967, the 10-member pact promotes economic growth, trade, and other issues within the region.
ASEAN’s members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Together, ASEAN makes up Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner.
In the last five years, ASEAN members have purchased almost 3 million tonnes of wheat and durum, valued at around $1 billion per year.
“With this agreement, we expect to strengthen our ties with customers in Southeast Asia while meeting the rising demand for staple food products in this dynamic fast-growing region,” Dean Dias, CEO of Cereals Canada, said in a statement.
In 2020, trade between Canada and ASEAN reached $26.7 billion.
A joint study between Canada and ASEAN projected a free trade agreement would increase trade by $7.8 billion.
Four of the countries, Brunei, Malasysia, Singapore and Vietnam, are also part of the CPTPP with Canada.