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New friendship agreement brings Canada, Southeast Asia closer

Published by Steve Coleman on October 03, 2011

Canada has signed a new agreement to help keep the doors open with its seventh-largest trading partner.

Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed a joint declaration of cooperation on Oct. 2 to try and find new ways to work together.

"The economic opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers in this key market are great," said International Trade Minister Ed Fast. "In these uncertain global economic times, long-term economic growth and good jobs are best protected and created by broadening and deepening our trading relationships and removing trade barriers. We understand that trade has a direct impact on people's lives-on their jobs and on their families' financial security.

Getting the agreement signed was important to Canada, Fast said in a news release. Southeast Asia is a priority market under the Harper government's Global Commerce Strategy. The region has approximately 600 million consumers, a growing middle class and lots of natural resources.

In 2010, annual two-way merchandise trade between Canada and ASEAN reached $13.8 billion. As a group, it ranks as Canada's seventh-largest merchandise trade partner.

The 10-member group, which includes countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, is currently working on integration into a single market by 2015.

The fact more countries are looking to tie their economies together to try and improve their fortunes should be enough incentive for Canada and the US to work closer together, said Jean-Michel Laurin, CME VP of Global Business Policy. The two countries should be working on moving forward with their economic competitiveness and perimeter security agreement.

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