The CABC has long been committed to this agreement and has indeed seen increased interest from both governments in reviewing a free trade agreement between ASEAN and Canada. According to the Government`s recent Joint Feasibility Study on a Potential ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement, conducted by both parties, a comprehensive free trade agreement would bring significant trade and economic benefits to all ASEAN member states and Canada and promote closer economic relations in the long term. Trade between Canada and the ten ASEAN member countries is already promising. In 2017, ASEAN-Canada trade was $US 23.2 billion, up from $21.6 billion last year. If ASEAN is considered a group, it is Canada`s sixth largest trading partner. But it could rise with a trade deal. The ASEAN Advantage, a 2017 report we wrote in collaboration with the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia, showed that a free trade agreement between ASEAN and Canada would generate up to $11 billion in additional trade and increase Canadian GDP by $1.2 billion by 2027. This would benefit a large number of businesses and millions of workers and strengthen Canada`s position in the Southeast Asian market. The main benefits of the free trade agreement would come from reducing tariffs and improving non-tariff barriers to trade for goods, services and investment.

Four ASEAN members are also parties to the CPTPP and studies indicate that the economic benefits of trade expansion between Canada and non-ASEAN CPTPP countries (Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos) would outweigh the benefits of member states. But ASEAN and CPTPP member countries can also benefit from a potential free trade agreement with Canada by making additional gains. Despite recent headwinds from our largest trading partner – the United States – and the challenges of our dialogue on expanding Chinese trade, Canada has reached encouraging trade agreements, including dozens of reasons why the governments of Canada and ASEAN should seize this opportunity. We have already had encouraging discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr. . . .