Coherent Strategy, Not Piecemeal Approach Required to Secure Canada’s Place in Asia, Contends APF Canada Report

Vancouver, B.C. – September 6, 2012 – If Canada wants to secure its place in Asia, it will require comprehensive engagement that extends beyond a commercially focused, and bilateral-centered approach. This is one of the key findings from a taskforce report published today by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) on the eve of Prime Minister Harper’s visit to Russia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit. The report recommends 17 ways for Canada to advance a full-scale engagement with Asia, particularly through a combination of regional institutions and bilateral mechanisms.

Securing Canada’s Place in Asia: Institutions, Means and Mechanisms considers objectives and priorities for Canadian participation in various Asian regional forums and relationships in the region. The report is co-authored by taskforce members: Don Campbell, Senior Strategy Advisor to Davis LLP; Paul Evans, Professor of Asian International Relations at the University of British Columbia; and Pierre Lortie, Senior Business Advisor at Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.

“Ottawa has done a commendable job over the past three years to put Canada back on track with our engagement with Asia,” noted Don Campbell. “The challenge now is for Canada to sustain and build on its foothold in Asia through a more coherent strategy that utilizes bilateral and regional processes. Currently, Canada is either not present or on the margins of some key institutions.”

Canada is currently a member of APEC, a dialogue partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). It also participates in non-official forums such as the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the Shangri-La Dialogue. Canada is currently not a member of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting ++ or the East Asia Summit. Canada is awaiting final approval to join the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations but has not concluded a single free trade agreement with any Asian country.

“Some might question the value of Canada joining process-filled forums in Asia, but keep in mind that the rules of engagement in Asia are different,” noted Mr. Campbell. “Being active participants at these tables is critical to building long-term trust with Asian counterparts. This is ultimately vital to Canada’s long-term prosperity.”

Advocating for a large-scale, ambitious, coordinated, cross-partisan, multi-dimensional and long-term Canadian strategy in Asia, the report offers key recommendations including:

• Establish a coordinating unit with access to senior government officials on Canada’s participation in Asia and convene on a regular basis with non-government stakeholders.

• Formalize and sustain a bilateral dialogue with the United States focused on Asia.

• Strengthen existing bilateral dialogues with strategic Asian partners including China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia.

• Seek early admission into the East Asia Summit.

• Volunteer to chair and host APEC in 2017.

• Seek admission into the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting ++.

• Consider appointing a Canadian Ambassador dedicated to ASEAN.

• Conclude as a matter of urgency a FTA with South Korea.

• Pursue as a top priority comprehensive economic partnership negotiations with Japan.

• Move towards a trade agreement with China.

• Conclude trade negotiations with India.

• Secure final approval for participation in the TPP negotiations.

The Regional Architecture Taskforce was created as part of APF Canada’s National Conversation on Asia (NCA). This report is the second in a series of taskforce reports to be released as part of the NCA. This project aims to get Canadians thinking and talking about what Asia means to Canada.

To view the full report, click here.


About the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is an independent resource for Canadians on contemporary Asia and Canada-Asia relations. As a national not-for-profit organization established by an Act of the Federal Parliament in 1984, the Foundation brings together people and knowledge to provide the most current and comprehensive research, analysis and information on Asia and on Canada's transpacific relations. Visit APF Canada at

About the National Conversation on Asia

The National Conversation on Asia is a Canada-wide initiative to get Canadians thinking and talking about what Asia means to Canada. It includes a public education and policy development focus. This initiative is generously supported in part by our Founding Partners: Teck, Shell Canada, Manulife Financial and BMO Financial Group; Founding Sponsors: HSBC Bank Canada and Port Metro Vancouver; and Founding Supporters: Port of Halifax, Fiera Capital, Deloitte, Vancouver Airport Authority, Husky Energy, Canadian Pacific, TELUS, Blakes, Cameco and SNC-Lavalin. 

For more information, please contact:

Trang Nguyen
Communications Manager
Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
Tel: 604-323-6781

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