Minister Fast Wraps Up Successful Trade Mission to Southeast Asia

Deeper ties with fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets are key to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, Minister says

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up a four-country trade mission through Southeast Asia, which concluded with his announcement that Canada will establish a permanent trade presence at Canada’s soon to be opened embassy in Burma. 

“With one in five jobs generated by trade, the financial security of hard-working Canadians and their families is closely linked to opening new markets for businesses and their workers,” said Minister Fast.  “Canada recognizes the important role that Southeast Asia is playing and will continue to play in the future of the global economy. That is why rapidly growing regions like Southeast Asia are a natural focus for our government’s efforts to help Canadian companies expand and succeed throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

Minister Fast was in Southeast Asia to help Canadian companies identify opportunities that will increase prosperity both at home and abroad. After visits to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, Minister Fast travelled to Burma, making him Canada’s first trade minister to visit the country.

While in Burma, Minister Fast met with several members of the government, including President Thein Sein, and of the opposition, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate, General Secretary of the opposition National League for Democracy, and honorary Canadian citizen Aung San Suu Kyi, to discuss how Canadian companies can help facilitate development and reforms in the country through trade.

“Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service provides an invaluable resource to Canadian companies doing business abroad,” said Minister Fast. “With trade services at our new embassy in Burma, which we are working to open soon, Canadian businesses will have advocates on the ground to help identify new business opportunities, assess risks and, most importantly, develop contacts and make introductions to key players in the market.


“Our members see tremendous opportunities in Burma, but we are also taking a measured and pragmatic approach in assessing the risks and opportunities associated with expanding bilateral trade between our two countries,” said Peter van Haren, President of the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “With the opening of an embassy in Burma that will include a permanent trade presence, the Government of Canada is demonstrating that it is serious about supporting Canadian companies in this market.”

In Siem Reap, Cambodia, Minister Fast marked a new way forward with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with the adoption of a workplan that outlines how Canada and ASEAN can work together to deepen commercial ties. Minister Fast and the Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce of Cambodia, Cham Prasidh, co-chaired the first Canada-ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, which was attended by ministers or senior representatives from all 10 ASEAN countries and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan. Minister Fast also announced the establishment of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council. The Government of Canada has identified ASEAN as a priority as part of its pro-trade plan.

In all four countries, Minister Fast welcomed Canadian commercial successes, including:

“I was pleased to see how successful Canadian companies were in the region,” said Minister Fast. “But of course there is a lot more untapped potential for Canadian companies and that is why I led this trade mission—to help Canadian companies succeed abroad so that they will in turn create jobs and increase prosperity at home.”

In Cambodia, Minister Fast met with the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Im Sethy, to discuss opportunities for increased cooperation in the education sector. He also met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon, to discuss potential areas for future collaboration between Canadian and Cambodian companies.

While in Thailand, in a meeting with Thai Minister of Education Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech, an alumnus of McMaster University in Ontario, Minister Fast highlighted the 60 active agreements between educational institutions in Canada and Thailand, which are facilitating the exchange of students and faculty; curriculum cooperation; joint research and joint degree programs, all while building the people-to-people ties that will help deepen the Canada-Thailand relationship.

While in Vietnam, Minister Fast met with the students and rector at H Chí Minh City University of Technology, where he highlighted how Canada is a destination of choice for international students. The university offers a joint program with Montréal’s Cégep Marie-Victorin that leads to a two-year diploma in accounting.

In Vietnam and Cambodia, the Minister also visited two key shipping terminals that link to Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway. The Government of Canada recognizes that efficient and sustainable gateways to global markets are imperative to enabling trade. As part of its pro-trade plan, Canada has invested in gateway infrastructure projects valued at over $3.3 billion, in partnership with all four Western provinces, as well as with municipalities and the private sector.