31st Sea Games - Vietnam 2021 Covid-19 Pandemic
Aug 05, 2021 / 15:21

ASEAN, Canada to initiate negotiation for FTA in 2021

Canada looked forward to working more closely with ASEAN and take the bilateral relations to a new height.

ASEAN and Canada are scheduled to begin negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) this year while pushing for the implementation of a joint action plan for the 2021-2025 period.

 Overview of the meeting. Source: MoFA

The moves were revealed during the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) ASEAN-Canada under the virtual format today [August 5], which is part of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-54).

At the meeting, Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau highlighted the ASEAN-Canada relations and Vietnam’s efforts as the Chair of ASEAN in 2020.

Canada expected to work more closely with ASEAN and take the bilateral relations to a new height while playing a more active role in multilateral frameworks with ASEAN playing a central role.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son welcomed Canada’s deepening cooperation with ASEAN, noting such efforts would contribute to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.

Son called for Canada to support ASEAN’s effort in accessing Covid-19 vaccine supplies and work on specific measures for developing countries to mitigate the pandemic impacts and subsequent recovery efforts.

“Vietnam fully supports an ASEAN-Canada FTA, which would create a favorable environment for trade and investment,” he noted, saying women, peace, and security are also fields that the two sides could strengthen cooperation.

On regional issues, Son stressed that ensuring a peaceful, stable, and secure East Sea with freedom of navigation would not only bring benefits but also a responsibility of countries, including ASEAN and Canada.

 Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at the meeting. 

Son reaffirmed ASEAN’s stance on the East Sea that is building trust, refraining from militarization, and resolving territorial disputes based on international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

According to Son, ASEAN is actively working with China in finalizing the Code of conduct for the East Sea (COC), requesting Canada to support the bloc in this regard.

At the meeting, ASEAN and Canada agreed on supporting each other in the Covid-19 fight towards comprehensive and sustainable development.

Foreign ministers also agreed on the necessity to strengthen economic, trade, and investment cooperation, with a view to keeping the networks of supply chains intact.

Marc Garneau said Canada is committed to further carrying out the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) program, supporting member countries in innovation, cybersecurity, climate change, gender equality, education, healthcare, and natural disaster response.

Both sides approved plans to organize activities in celebrating the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-Canada relations in 2022.

Despite the severe Covid-19 pandemic, ASEAN-Canada trade turnover in 2020 rose to US$16.2 billion. ASEAN member countries welcomed Canada’s donation of CND3.5 million ($2.8 million) to the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund in the next five years, and a medical equipment package worth CND4.5 million ($3.6 million).