After years of suspense, revisions, and false starts, Ottawa released its Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) on Sunday in Vancouver, framing it as a “whole-of-society” effort to bolster trade, security, sustainability, and immigration with a region that will be “critical” to Canada over the next half-century. The IPS comes at a cost of nearly $2.3 billion — in mostly new funding — over five years and offers up five objectives: promote peace and security, expand trade and investment, connect people, build a sustainable future, and turn Canada into an active, engaged regional partner.
Big investments, ‘existential’ pressures
Two investments comprise more than half of the IPS’s funding: $750 million is earmarked for FinDev Canada, Canada's development finance institution, while $492.9 million is set aside to expand Canada’s naval presence and participation in regional military exercises. The IPS also allocates $100 million to Global Affairs Canada to expand capacity at home and abroad, and creates a new Canadian ‘special envoy’ position for the Indo-Pacific. The IPS labels China “an increasingly disruptive global power,” but pledges Canada to work with the country on “existential pressures,” including climate change and biodiversity, health, and nuclear proliferation. The document highlights Canada’s interest in strengthening relations with Japan and South Korea, and prioritizes negotiating a Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) as well as Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with India and Indonesia.
So, now what?
Most experts have welcomed the IPS, with one University of Ottawa professor, Roland Paris, calling it “the most substantive strategic document on foreign policy that we've seen from any Canadian government for a long time.” Questions remain, however, about implementation. During a briefing on Monday, a senior GAC official told the media that there is no explicit reporting mechanism to monitor the IPS’s progress yet, although the department is “working on it.”