Mon, 03 Oct 2011

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Canada have agreed to start implementing their joint declaration on trade and investment.

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu in her capacity as chief of ASEAN economic ministers and Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast marked the adoption of the joint declaration by exchanging a written statement here on Sunday night.

ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Pushpanathan Sundram said the implementation of the joint declaration in the trade and investment field would strengthen partnership between both side which had been in existent since 1977.

The implementation of the joint declaration would give ASEAN member states more chances to enhance trade and investment relations with Canada, he said.

"This is because Canada is a potential gateway to enter the North American market," he said.

Mari said the implementation of the joint declaration would cover trade and investment promotion, facilities for small and medium scale businesses, formation of business dialog forum, and exchange of information on trade and investment.

"We will ascertain the participation of business agents in the implementation of this declaration because without their participation the cooperation we are building will not be balanced," she said.

Ed Fast said as ASEAN`s longest dialog partner, Canada perceived large opportunities in the trade and investment sectors in the Southeast Asian region.

"We want to do more business in this important region," he said.

He saw Southeast Asia as a region which was rich in natural resources and recorded a high growth of middle class people.

Canada was also one of ASEAN`s important dialog partners which was very much engaged in trade and investment interaction with the regional grouping.

Data from the ASEAN Secretariat show two-way trade between ASEAN and Canada reached US$9 billion in 2009 and the figure increased to US$9.8 billion in 2010.

Compared to other dialog partners such as European Union, China, Japan and the United States, trade between ASEAN and Canada was relatively small.

He said ASEAN which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam was Canada`s seventh biggest trade partner with a total value of trade in goods increasing 52 percent in the past decade.

Meanwhile, Canada`s foreign direct invest