Alphabet soup

The Alphabet Soup of Canada-Asia Pacific Relations

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Alphabet soup was standard fare in kitchens growing up. Children and adults alike could be caught staring into the tomato sauce trying to decipher the mishmash of letters. What was the soup's narrative? What was it trying to say? What to make of its hidden messages? Not making sense of that Scrabble bowl of soup had little consequence in the end, as fuelling up and having fun didn't necessarily require a deeper understanding of lunch.

The same can't be said, however, of the hodgepodge of acronyms that face us every time we discuss Canada-Asia Pacific relations. Without a key or cypher, knowing or understanding the labels attached to these transpacific relations can be like staring into a bottomless bowl of alphabet soup.

Being able to intelligibly use – and explain – some of the jargon that informs Canada-Asia Pacific relations will not only elevate your transpacific smarts by orders of magnitude, it will also improve your cosmopolitan street cred.

So the next time you're asked if the CPTPP as counterbalance to the BRI (aka OBOR) is more robust than an ASEAN-led RCEP, or whether the work of the WB, ADB, and AIIB overlaps in some areas but diverges in others, you will be able to answer correctly and in a snap all thanks to APF Canada and this handy new guide to the 'alphabet soup' of Canada-Asia engagement.

And we welcome your input – if there's a term related to the Asia Pacific that you think we missed or have a question about, please shoot us an email.


ABAC: pronounced with a Canadian “eh” as in “eh-back.” Not to be confused with “eh-black” (see ABLAC). ABAC stands for the Manila, Philippines-headquartered APEC Business Advisory Council, which we can further spell out as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. The APEC Economic Leaders established this council in 1995 to provide advice on the implementation of a broad set of goals related to enhancing regional trade and investment, increase business activities and economic cooperation. Each APEC member economy can appoint up to three people from the private sector to take part in the discussions. APF Canada serves as the secretariat for Canada’s ABAC members.

ABLAC: pronounced with a Canadian “eh” rather than “ah” as in “eh-black”. Not to be confused with “eh-back” (see ABAC). APF Canada launched the Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council (ABLAC) in 2016. It comprises a comprises a group of C-Suite/high ranking Asian and Canadian business leaders/officials convened annually by APF Canada to identify and articulate opportunities for improved Canada-Asia business engagement. 2016 and 2017 meetings were held in Vancouver, 2018 was in Toronto and ABLAC 2019 took place in Hong Kong SAR, marking the first meeting to take place in Asia since the Council's inception. The 2020 meeting will take place in Tokyo, Japan.

ABTC: This stands for the APEC Business Travel Card, or in full, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC). This card facilitates short-term business travel within the APEC region by streamlining the entry process into APEC economies. Successful applicants are granted pre-clearance entry into participating economies for five years for business travel up to 60 or 90 days depending on destination. The card also lets the holder participate in any fast track immigration processing at major international airports.

ADB: The Manila, Philippines-headquartered Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a multilateral development bank established in 1966 that focuses on poverty reduction projects. It was the first international institution created and led by Japan. This is one of the reasons it is sometimes seen as a competitor to the more recently China-created AIIB. The 67-member strong bank’s current agenda includes inclusive growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Canada has been a member since 1966 and is one of the twelve board members.

ADIZ: A-D-I-Z, or Air Defense Identification Zone is an area of airspace in which a country unilaterally demands all aircraft provide notice of entry into the zone. Eleven of the 16 governments in the world that maintain an ADIZ are in the Asia Pacific: Australia, China, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Many of the declared ADIZs overlap, of particular note are those above the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

ADMM: ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting. The inaugural meeting took place in Kuala Lumpur in 2006 with the “aims to promote mutual trust and confidence through greater understanding of defence and security challenges as well as enhancement of transparency and openness.” Unlike the ASEAN Regional Forum or the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, ADMM provides a closed-door, media-free venue for defence ministers to constructively consult each other on bilateral and multilateral issues. Related to this is the 2010 created ADMM-Plus, which adds eight Dialogue Partners to the mix to discuss maritime security, counterterrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations and military medicine. The eight partners are India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. While Canada has put out feelers to see if members would welcome its participation, it has yet to join.

AI: A-I. Not to be confused with 'ai' - the Japanese word for love, the Chinese word for 'aunty,' or the deadly avian influenza. AI here refers to 'Artificial Intelligence', a technology that brings together various computing software and hardware to simulate human intelligence and thereby boost productivity. It is a key technology in the 4th Industrial Revolution. Check out APF Canada’s research pillar Digital Asia for more.

AIIB: A-I-I-B. The Beijing-headquartered Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) aims to improve social and economic development in Asia through investment into sustainable infrastructure. It opened for business in January 2016. AIIB, one of a handful of multilateral development banks (ADB and WB being two others), now has 87 members, including Canada which joined in 2018.

AFTA: Not to be confused with “an FTA,” AFTA here stands for ASEAN Free Trade Area or spelled out in full Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Area, which is a trade bloc agreement with a focus on manufacturing and economic integration. When AFTA was signed in 1992 ASEAN had six members, now there are 10 members.

AR: In some cases AR can refer to the lifesaving first aid skill of artificial respiration, here is means augmented reality. Augmented reality blends the real-world environment with interactive digital visual overlays. An example of this in action that caught the world by storm was the 2016 Pokémon Go mobile game that took the world by storm and had people from all walks of life roaming the streets.

APEC: Pronounced as “eh-peck,” the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia Pacific, of which Canada was one of the 12 founding members. Membership has since grown to 21 economies; every year one of the 21 member economies serves as the forum host. Canada first and last held the forum in Vancouver, BC in 1997. Also, see ABAC.

ARF: While Arrf is tempting, A-R-F stands for ASEAN Regional Forum, a multilateral annual dialogue created by ASEAN to focus on regional political, peace and security issues. The inaugural meeting took place in Bangkok, Thailand in 1994. The current participants are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, the United States, and Viet Nam.

ASEAN: Rather than read each letter individually, this acronym has enough vowels that we can read it out as a word, asean, or ah-zee-an (not “a-shawn”). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. The addition of Brunei Darussalam (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos (1997), Myanmar (1997) and Cambodia (1999) have brought the total membership number to ten. ASEAN focuses on promoting economic growth, social progress, cultural development, and peace and stability of its members.

AW: A-W is shorthand for Asia Watch, APF Canada’s tri-weekly uniquely Canadian analytical newsletter on the trends, newsmakers, and current events in the Asia Pacific. Subscribe here.


BIT: Bilateral Investment Treaty. A BIT is an agreement between two countries that establishes the rules for investment from parties in one country into another country, or in other words, foreign direct investment. In Canada, BITs are also referred to as Foreign Investment and Protection Agreements (FIPA). See FIPA.

Brexit: This is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union. Britain + exit = Brexit. In a 2016 referendum a slight majority voted to leave the EU. Since then politicians in Britain have struggled with how to follow through with their departure promise. Brexit is of interest to Canada-Asia Pacific relations watchers because it raises all sorts of questions and uncertainties. Canada has signed a trade agreement with the EU, but the UK is one of Canada’s top import and export market in the EU. And with Brexit what will happen with Britain’s ties in the Asia Pacific? So far, like many other aspects of Brexit that is still unclear. Like Canada, Britain doesn’t have an Asia Pacific strategy. What is clear is that the UK role as a key EU entry point for Asian exporters may dwindle. The EU also has trade agreements with Japan and South Korea, and is in various stages of  agreement negotiation with a number of other countries in the Asia Pacific. Now that Britain has left the EU, we can expect to see a more active UK in the Asia Pacific, especially in dealing with trade with Japan, which is also a target market for Canada with the CPTPP.

BRICS: Not referencing building blocks for a house or school, this refers to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This acronym gained popularity in the early 2000s after first used in a paper by Goldman Sachs economist Jin O’Neill – but in that paper it was BRIC; South Africa didn’t join the grouping until 2010. But why group these geographically distant countries together? O’Neil originally envisioned these countries as ripe for investment, but the five members have moved their annual dialogue to also include global governance, security, climate change, and social issues.

BRI: Pronounced B-R-I rather than bree. This one is hard to pin down and much effort has been given to trying to pinpoint what the BRI is or is not as the jargon is filled with more jargon. Is it a policy? Is it a strategy? What are the limits? BRI stands for the Belt and Road Initiative and it is the brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. In as speech Xi gave in 2013 he nostalgically referenced the ancient silk road trade route that connected China to Europe and gave notice of its modern-day renewal. It is formerly known by a number of names such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR, pronounced “oh bore”), where the belt referred to the “Silk Road Economic Belt” – a land route or routes from China to Europe and where the road in OBOR referred to the “21st century Maritime Silk Road” – a series of sea based routes that would connect southern China to Southeast Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe. China changed the name of OBOR to BRI in 2015, but both names are still in use. And both names still use singular words to refer to multiple projects; ‘belt’ continues to refer to land-based projects and ‘road’ continues to refer sea-based projects The initiative’s scope has expanded along with the evolution of the project’s name. In short it aims to improve connectivity across continental Asia, Europe, Africa, and most recently the Arctic. Regardless if it is meant as a plan to deal with the overcapacity of Chinese manufacturing or to help integrate China into the world – this is big. It involves investments into ports, roads, railway, bridges, pipelines, power girds, telecom, related infrastructure, and special economic zones (SEZ). The World Bank (WB)estimates US$575 billion has been invested in these projects so far. Some pundits argue that BRI is closely connected to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), but the bank argues that they are two separate endeavors.


CABC: Canada-ASEAN Business Council. During an ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting in 2012, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) requested Canadian private companies operating in ASEAN to establish CABC. Since then, CABC has been working to facilitate and help increase trade and investment between Canada and ASEAN through education, advocacy, and networking. CABC opened its Twitter account in 2014.

Cancham: Also spelt CanCham. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (Cancham) advocates on behalf of Canadian businesses in all sectors. Established in 1925, CanCham now represents about 200,000 businesses and boasts 450 chambers and boards of trade offices. There are a number of CanChams in Asia: China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.

CANZBA: This one just rolls off the tongue. Canada, Australia & New Zealand Business Association. This Vancouver-headquartered non-profit organization established in 2001 aims to support business engagement between these three countries.

CCBC: C-C-B-C. The Canada China Business Council (CCBC) is a non-profit member-based business organization with offices in both Canada and China. Founded in 1978, CCBC aims to help Canadian business succeed in China and Chinese businesses succeed in Canada.

CCCC: C-C-C-C rather than “quadruple C.” Toronto-headquartered Canada China Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) was formed in 2012 by Chinese enterprises in Canada with the aim to increase business development and communication between China and Canada.

CCSEP: The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program is a short-term scholarship for Canadians wishing to study abroad in China. The program is based on reciprocal agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

Chatham House Rule: There is only one Chatham House Rule, so Chatham House Rules doesn’t make any sense. The rule is often invoked to encourage free and open discussion. The rule is as follows: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

CLAIR: Read out as a name, Claire. The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) is a Japanese government affiliated foundation that supports internationalization efforts of local governments in Japan. CLAIR has offices in each prefecture in Japan and seven international offices. Their work mainly focuses on supporting the JET Programme and Japan’s international sister cities. Japan boasts nearly 1,700 sister cities compared to Canada’s 270. The 79 sister cities between the two countries represents 5% of all Japan’s agreements and 29% of Canada’s. Canada doesn’t have a national organization like CLAIR that supports these kinds of initiatives. Also, see JET Programme.

CLIC: The Canada Learning Initiative in China program is a new Canada-wide study abroad initiative that provides subsidized learning opportunities for Canadian students in China. Funded by China’s Ministry of Education and Canadian U15 universities (a group of 15 Canadian universities), the program seeks to increase the number of Canadian students studying abroad in China.

CPTPP: Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This free trade agreement among Canada and 10 other economies came into force in December 2018. It was a long time in the making over which period the United States dropped out while Canada opted in. The CPTPP provides preferential trade treatment among its members, which are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. These economies are home to nearly half a billion people and contributes about 14% of global GDP. Among these countries, Japan represents the big fish for Canada. For background information see TPP, TPP-1, TPP10, and TPP11. APF Canada launched its inaugural CPTPP Tracker in December 2019.

CSCAP: Pronounced “see-scap.” It sounds like your home WIFI network, but it stands for Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific. Canada was a founding member in the early-mid-1990s, and has made important contributions to this 21-member track two diplomatic dialogue on political and security issues in the region, including in the areas of maritime security, peacekeeping, and the responsibility to protect. Canada also assumed editorial responsibility for the CSCAP Regional Security Outlook, the organization’s flagship publication, from 2006-2011. But since then Canada’s participation has waned, missing several years of membership dues and having inconsistent attendance at meetings. CSCAP’s members are Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Japan, DPR Korea, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat as an associate member.

CUSMA: There are some creative ways of reading this acronym in circulation, including kooz-ma and koosh-ma. It stands for the Canada-United States Mexico Agreement. The Canadian name of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. See USMCA for more.


DFAIT: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. See GAC.

DFATD: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development. See GAC.

DMZ: Demilitarized Zone. An area where states or military parties have agreed not to post military. In the Asia Pacific, DMZ often refers to the Korean DMZ, which is the 250km-long border barrier that separates North Korea and South Korea created in 1953. DMZ is also the name of the Ryerson University-based tech accelerator.

DPRK: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the official name of North Korea, which was founded following World War Two in September 1948 with Kim Il-Sung at its helm. Tensions on the Korean peninsula and between emerging Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States, led to war that lasted from 1950 to 1953. At the end of the war, the Korean peninsula was roughly divided in half. Kim Il-sung’s son Kim Jong-il took over in 1994 and his grandson Kim Jong-un has been in power since 2011. Tensions with South Korea, Japan and the United States have remained tense for decades. See DMZ and Six Party Talks.


EEZ: Ease your way into learning about Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). E-E-Z is a concept adopted by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in which coastal states have exclusive rights to exploration, extraction, and management of marine, seabed and subsoil resources extending 200 nautical miles from the edge of its coast. In cases where EEZs overlap the maritime boundary is usually split in the middle. UNCLOS basically enshrined a practice that had become an international norm. Which country has the world’s largest EEZs? The answer is France. France’s many overseas territories account for nearly 97% of its total EEZs – much of this in the Pacific around New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia. And how about Canada? It has the world’s 7th largest EEZ. There are a number of disputes in the Asia Pacific over overlapping EEZ claims, including in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

EPIK: EPIK stands for English Program in Korea, a program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. The EPIK program was established in 1995 with the mandate to improve the English-speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea and to develop cultural exchanges. Through the EPIK Program, over 1,000 teachers are placed in ESL teaching jobs every year – epic.

EU: The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union among 27 member states (it was 28 until Britain’s exit on January 31, 2020). The EU has a number of agreements with Asia economies, notably Japan, China, and India. Pundits often watch the EU’s stance towards the Asia Pacific, recently toward China’s BRI, FDI, and tech giant Huawei for signals for what Canada could, should, or should not do.

EEU: Eurasian Economic Union. The idea of creating a union of former Soviet states began in 1994 and materialized over the next few years, which led to the creation of the Eurasian Economic Community. The treaty to establish the EEU came into force in 2015. The current member states of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Russia have a combined population of 183.8 million people and contribute about 3.2% of global GDP.


FIPA: Read as feepa, it is pretty close to FIFA, but rather than get distracted thinking about World Cup football, think investment.. Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPA) are agreements between two economies that set rules for foreign direct investment (FDI). Canada has 38 FIPAs in force, 5 of which are with Asian counterparts (China, Hong Kong, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand), and 2 of the 14 in negotiation are with Asian counterparts (India and Pakistan). Also, see BIT.

FPIC: F-pick. Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is a specific right held by indigenous peoples and is recognized by the two most comprehensive international agreements on indigenous rights: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 (ILO169). Provisions in these documents say that Indigenous peoples must be given FPIC to decisions that may affect them, their lands, resources and/or culture and allows them to give, withhold, or withdraw consent if a project should move forward. And if a project does more forward they should have a say in the project’s design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

FOIP: Read like a word, foip. A quick search of this acronym in Canada will likely take you to Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act. But the Asia Pacific-related term we are interested in here is Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), a concept that shifts focus in Asia from Northeast Asia to South and Southeast Asia that has gained prominence after U.S. President Trump began using the term Indo-Pacific from November 2017. But what that means as a concept, in practice, or policy is nebulous and differs depending on the party. The U.S. generally sees the concept in support of freedom of navigation, the rule of law, freedom from coercion, respect for sovereignty, private enterprise, open markets, and the freedom and independence of all nations. It also uses the term to refer to its ‘quad’ strategic relationship with Japan, India, and Australia. Australia, India, Japan, and Taiwan, have embraced the concept in one way or another. As has France, which presented its Indo-Pacific strategy at the Shangri La Dialogue in 2019. The descriptor excludes – and thus rankles – China and Russia. ASEAN finds itself caught in the middle. ASEAN members agree to their centrality to the concept of FOIP, although appear unclear as to what it means, and have been hesitant and ambivalent in discussing what they see as a foreign imposed concept. Canada has also been openly discussing the idea. APF Canada hosted the Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Charting a Common Approach (FOIP 2020) conference in Vancouver in January 2020. This was the first international conference in Canada on the topic exploring different understandings of the Indo-Pacific concept within the themes of economy, governance, and security.

FTA: Free Trade Agreement. These are agreements between two or more countries that work toward decreasing trade barriers such as tariff and non-tariff barriers. How many FTAs does Canada have with economies in the Asia Pacific? Two. The CPTPP and the CKFTA. And how many FTAs are there in the Asia Pacific? According to the ADB’s ARIC, here are the numbers (all stages – from under negotiation to in effect) by economy.

FTAAP: pronounced “f-tap.” APEC first formally discussed the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2006. While the idea has been around at least since the mid-1960s, it has gained little traction. The 2006 discussions came about as a way to avoid the “spaghetti bowl” of overlapping and conflicting trade agreements in the region – one agreement to rule them all if you will.


GAC: Gack! When this first came out it sounded like more people started choking. Now the preferred nomenclature is to read GAC as Global Affairs, hopefully this hasn’t caused too much confusion with global affairs spelled in lowercase. GAC started out as the Department of External Affairs in 1909 when Canada was not yet an independent country. PM Joe Clark decided in 1979 to consolidate diplomats, trade commissioners, and immigration foreign service programs. Then a few years later PM Pierre-Elliot Trudeau created the Department of External Affairs, which then changed its name to External Affairs and International Trade, by combing two previously separate departments. The department got a new name in 1995: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade or DFAIT. In the early 2000s there was an odd administration separation of the department between foreign affairs and international trade. That separation didn’t last long as PM Stephen Harper reunited them under the name Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in 2006. In 2013, the Harper government added the Canadian International Development Agency into the mix to create the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development or DFATD. With a change in government in 2015, PM Justin Trudeau changed the public facing name of the department to Global Affairs Canada. Currently three ministers lead GAC: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Development, and the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade. While some may think that Canada regularly changes the names of federal departments because we Canadians are a squirmy bunch and we do so to keep things fresh and keep us on our toes, this is not the case. Rather, name changes reflect changing priories of the country as well as priorities of a prime minister and politicking. Which federal department has had the most name changes since Confederation? The answer isn’t that clear, but some likely contenders are GAC, INAC, IRCC, and ISED.

GATT:  What you gatt? General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Signed in 1947 by 28 countries, including Canada, and came into force the next year, GATT aimed to minimize barriers to trade – with a focus on goods – and to prevent another global economic crash such as the Great Depression. GATT was the first global multilateral trade agreement and a key agreement for promoting economic globalization. Like the WB and IMF, GATT came out of the 1944 Bretton Woods dialogue that focused on reshaping the post-World War Two global economy. By 1993, 128 countries had jumped on board. GATT negotiations became the gateway for the creation of WTO in 1995 which took on a broader mission than GATT to stay relevant in changing times. See WTO.

GDP: Gross Domestic Product. It is not the only nor the best measurement or indicator of a country’s economic well-being, but it remains one of the most commonly used. It provides an estimate of the value of all goods and services produced in a country over a specified period of time. It can be used as a base to estimate economic health and growth of a country. GDP does not directly address human well-being, inequality, and environmental issues that may be linked to increased production, or sale and trade of goods and services previously produced. Canada’s GDP in 2018 was US$1.71 trillion, putting it number 10 on the World Bank’s 2018 GDP ranking. China, Japan, and India are also on the top ten list.

G6+1: Mmm, this requires some basic math skills. Why not just say G7? Because the G7 summit held in Quebec in June 2018 ended with clear signals that the U.S. under President Trump had distanced itself from the other G6 countries, but not completely removed itself. See G7.

G7: Group of Seven (G7) refers to a series of meeting held every year between some of the largest economies of the world. Political leaders from member states discuss global economic, political, security, and social issues. The first G6 meeting took place in France in 1975 and Canada joined the following year. The current members also include  Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. EU representatives have attended since 1977 but are not a full member. When Russia joined in 1997 the G7 became the G8 but it reverted back to the G7 in 2014 when Russia was kicked out following its annexation of Crimea. Members take turns holding the presidency and setting the agenda. Canada held the presidency in 1981, 1988,1995, 2002, 2010, and 2018. Canada’s next presidency will be in 2025.

G8: The G7 plus Russia (1997-2014). See G7 for more details.

G20: Setting the path toward G195? While the G7 includes the some of the most advanced economies in the world, the Group of Twenty (G20) includes a mix of developed and emerging economies. The G20 was established during the 1999 G7 meeting and initially aimed to discuss global economic and financial issues. Canadian finance minister Paul Martin was the forum’s first Chairman. Since 2008, the forum has expanded beyond financial ministers and central bank governors to include heads of government/state, foreign ministers, and economists. The current members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Japan hosted the G20 Summit in 2019 and the G20 will return to Asia in 2022 when India hosts.


HNWI: The good news is that this is not a new strain of the flu. High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) refers to individuals that are worth more than US$1 million. It is sometimes seen with an extra “U” as in UHNWI, which refers to individuals worth more than US$5 million. The Asia Pacific is home to the highest percentage and growth rate of global HNWI population and wealth.


IA-CEPA: Negotiations for the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA, also called AI-CEPA) began in 2010. Indonesia ratified it in early 2020, setting the stage for a 100-day implementation period, gradually eliminating 94 per cent of tariffs on Australian goods and making Indonesian goods bound for Australia tariff-free. If the many non-tariff barriers (NTB) between the two countries are adequately addressed, this agreement is expected to significantly boost bilateral trade beyond its current annual value of C$16 billion. Indonesia is Australia’s 13th largest trading partner. Australian higher education institutions will gain access to the Indonesian university market. This is significant as education is Australia’s main service export to Indonesia. Australia’s Monash University may be the first institution to benefit by opening a foreign university campus in Indonesia.

IBA: Depending on your area of interest this could mean Important Bird Areas, of which there are 325 areas in Canada. But of more relevance to the topic at hand, IBA stands for Impact Benefit Agreement. IBAs are private contracts agreed upon between two parties – say between a resource developer (mine, dam, pipeline, hydro, etc.) and an Indigenous community, in Canada or elsewhere, affected by said project. Agreements often include provisions on employment, economic and business development, finances, environment and society and culture, and are one way a proponent can help secure First Nations support for a project.

ICC: A quick google search will point you to the Dubai-headquartered International Cricket Council, which governs cricket around the globe. While this sport may not make headlines in Canada, it is the second most popular sport in the world – a significant portion of players and fans are based in the Asia Pacific. ICC also stands for The Hague-headquartered International Criminal Court, an independent court that investigates and prosecutes on global issues such as genocide, war crimes, and the like. Canada has been a keen supporter since its inception in 2002. Only 16 of the 123 party countries are from the Asia Pacific – noticeably absent are China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vietnam. In the Asia Pacific, the ICC has looked into issues in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

ICJ: The Hague-headquartered International Court of Justice (ICJ) is one of the five main bodies of the United Nations established in 1945. The two main roles of the ICJ are to settle legal disputes between states submitted by said states, and to provide advisory opinions on legal matters. In the Asia Pacific, the ICJ has been involved in cases between Malaysia and Singapore over sovereignty issues, between the Marshall Islands and the U.K., India, and Pakistan over nuclear disarmament, and Australia and Japan over Antarctica whaling.

IMF: While reading this as “imph” is tempting, it is usually read as  I-M-F. In 1944, 44 countries met in Bretton Woods, U.S. to discuss how to shape the post-World War Two global economic order to prevent a situation that might lead to another global conflict. These discussions led to the birth of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WB). The IMF aims to support the stability of the international monetary system by tracking the economies of members and the global economy, lending money to economies, and providing economic and financial policy advice. The IMF now has 189 member states, including Canada, and US$1 trillion in lending capability. Canada’s main contributions to the IMF have been related to supporting capacity building and training to officials in member countries. Many Koreans who went through the Asian Financial Crisis are critical of the IMF. Korea was hit particularly hard by the crisis and the IMF offered a bail tied to a number of structural reforms that affected the labour force (many Koreans lost their jobs) and foreign investment. While Korea has now recovered from the crisis, the resulting labour force insecurity and inequality remains.

IFI: International Financial Institutions. This includes the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, or any other international or regional financial institution that was created by more than one country. It is all about the money, money, money.

Indo-Pacific: Trending now. While there is disagreement on whether it was India or Japan that first began using this term, we do know that it gained popularity in English when U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration began using it from November 2017. The aim appears to be to shift focus in Asia away from China and instead to the south. But ironically that is also a trend not only coming from the U.S. but also among China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan which are all looking south, aiming to increase economic and security integration with Southeast Asia and India. Also see FOIP.

Innovation: This is a slippery buzzword that gets used to mean all sorts of things. For example, while it often refers to changes made in services, products, or production, it can also refer to anything that is new. A closely related word is disruption, which takes innovation further, innovation 2.0 if you will, to mean innovation that displaces a current industry, market or even mode of thinking. Canada uses this word in many ministries, initiatives and programs including Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI). Could innovation and disruption be the 21st century words for progress and development that proliferated in the nineteenth century?

IP: Not to be confused with Ip Man, the Cantonese master of Wing Chun and teacher of Bruce Lee. IP is often used as shorthand for Indigenous people(s), of which two thirds of the world’s IP population of about 400 million resides in the Asia Pacific. IP, pronounced “I-P” also stands for intellectual property, while IPR stands for intellectual property rights. Intellectual property consists of a wide variety of creations or intangible assets such as inventions, literature, art, music, design, brands, new technologies or software, processes, names, and images. Rights to IP can be protected through a variety of means including copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. The value of intellectual property has been growing along with the shift toward an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. Which countries are the top patent applicants in the world and why does this matter? Because the number of patent applications is often used as an indicator of a country’s innovation. The answer varies depending on whether we look at patents per capita, per GDP, total number of patent applications, or several other criteria. According to Kemplar Industries, Taiwan, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan are all in the top five for patent applications per capita. According to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) China surpassed the United States in 2018 as the world’s largest number of patent applications; and Japan, South Korea, are also in the top five. What about Canada you ask? Not too shabby as it sits in the top 10 of some indicators, but it has been decreasing in the last number of years. But in terms of the companies with the most patent applications, Canada doesn’t make the cut; 7 of the top 10 companies are Japanese, 2 are South Korean, and one is from the U.S. Asia accounts for about two-thirds of all patent applications. Regardless of all these rankings of patents, protecting IP is one of the main concerns of Canadian companies looking to expand in the Asia Pacific.

IRCC: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This federal ministry provides services and programming for immigration, refugees and citizens. For example, it facilitates the arrival of immigrants, supports newcomers once they are here, and issues passports and visas. Formerly CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada).

ISI: The Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) is one of many programs created from the Innovation and Skills plan that the federal government launched as part of its 2017 budget. ISI, which is overseen by ISED, is a C$950 million funding program to be spread over five years to support business-led superclusters to advance this plan. The five superclusters launched in February 2018 are: Ocean Supercluster, SCALE.AI Supercluster, Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, Protein Industries Supercluster, and Digital Technology Supercluster.

ISED: Pronounced just like “I said.” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is a Canadian federal government department that covers a lot of ground. And like other departments, notably GAC, its name has changed a number of times. It began in 1887 as the Department of Trade and Commerce, then in 1969 it became the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce. It was then revised to Industry, Science and Technology in 1990 and in 1995 it was simplified to Industry Canada. It took its current name, ISED, in 2015. With an annual budget of about C$5 billion, it supports the growth of and investment in Canadian companies, skills of people, science and technology research, and commercialization efforts.

The ISED portfolio includes the six regional federal economic development organizations (ACOA, WD, CanNor, CED, FedDev Ontario, FedNor), two of the organizations that support and promote high-quality research in Canada (NSERC and SSHRC), as well as BDC, StatCan, NRC, and Destination Canada (DC). @ISED_CA twitter account has 29.9K followers compared to @CanadaFP (administered by GAC) with 117.6K followers vs @GAC-Corporate with 5,565 followers. @Canada has 742.2K followers.

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue / SLD: This is a commonly referred to in shorthand as Shangri-La, so not to be confused with the hotel in Vancouver or the fictional place in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. This is an annual intergovernmental security dialogue put on by the London-headquartered think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Defence ministers, ministry heads, and military officials from 28 Asia Pacific states – including Canada – gather at Singapore’s Shangri-La hotel and hash out the latest thinking on security and defence policy and agreements.


JET Programme: The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme aims to enhance internationalization in Japan by promoting mutual understanding between Japan and other nations. Participants can gain valuable overseas work experience, learn about Japanese language and culture, and meet participants from around the world, while contributing to English language education and international understanding in Japan. The program began in 1987 and sees between 4,000 and 6000 participants each year. The JET Programme has over 60,000 alumni from 57 partner countries. There were 557 Canadian participants in 2019-20.

JETRO: Read as “jet tro.” Tokyo-headquartered Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a Japan government related not-for-profit organization established in 1958 that promotes trade and investment between Japan and other countries. Kind of like a Japanese version of the Canada Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). JETRO maintains 74 offices around the world in 54 countries. The two JETRO offices in Canada are in Toronto and Vancouver.




MIKTA: Read as “mik-ta.” Unlike BRICS which came together after Goldman Sachs pointed out the economic potential of those economies, MIKTA was created when the foreign ministers of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia came together on the sidelines of the 2013 UN General Assembly. At that meeting, they found common ground in the need to work across regions to help solve global governance challenges. MIKTA hosts regular seminars throughout Canada.

Mission: Most often refers to a trade mission. These usually see a federal or provincial minister, a premier, or a mayor lead a group of politicians and business people on a group trip to deepen relations and wrap up trade or investment deals. Mission impossible? In a Canadian context there remains a dearth of research on the issue to say one way or another. That is why it is an issue APF Canada is tackling in our Engaging Asia research pillar. When was the first federally-led Indigenous-only trade mission? It took place in October 2018 on the sidelines of the World Indigenous Business Forum in Rotorua, New Zealand. It was part of a tri-pronged federal government initiative that aimed to hold at least one dedicated thematic trade mission for each Indigenous-, LGBTQ+-, and women-owned businesses. APF Canada began a program for missions in Asia that focus on supporting women in underrepresented sectors. The first, which focused on health care and technology, took place in Japan in April 2019. Other missions will be to South Korea and Taiwan.

MSME: Micro, small and medium sized enterprise. See SME.

MOU: Memorandum of Understanding. A written and signed agreement on items of understanding between two parties.


NOP: Nope not “nop,” but N-O-P. National Opinion Poll is one of APF Canada’s flagship projects which polls Canadians on their view of the Asia Pacific. Every even year APF Canada puts out its legacy poll and every odd year we release two thematic polls. The topics for 2019 were views on high-tech investment from Asia and views on human capital from Asia. Check out APF Canada’s Perspectives Asia research pillar for more information.

NTB: Non-tariff barrier. Tariffs are taxes placed on import goods or services and are seen as barriers to international trade. Non-tariff barriers are non-tax barriers that restrict imports or exports of goods or service such as regulations, rules, quotas, and language and culture.




PECC: Pronounced “peck” rather than P-E-C-C. The Pacific Economic Cooperation Council is a 26-member international organization formed in 1980 with the goal to foster economic cooperation and dialogue. Because individuals participate in their private capacity, PECC is independent of government. Delegations from each member economy usually includes a senior government official, a business leader, and one academic. APF Canada is Canada’s secretariat for PECC.  

PRC: After years of civil war Mao Zedong, the leader of the Communist Party of China, announced the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. With a population of 1.4 billion, yes billion, China is the most populous country in the world. China surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2010 and has been making waves on the international stage. The optimism of bilateral relations that came with the launch of Canada-China Year of Tourism in January 2018 began to sour by the end of the year after Huawei’s CFO Meng Wangzhou was arrested in Vancouver and nine days later China detained two Canadians. For a summary of Canada-China relations since Meng’s arrest, click here.



RCEP: R-sep. ASEAN leaders initiated the idea of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2012 (negotiations began in 2013) and it is one of the contributors of the so-called spaghetti bowl effects of overlapping free trade agreements. RCEP aims to bring together the 10 members of ASEAN plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. RCEP members account for 3.6 billion people and one third of the global GDP.

ROC: Between a rock and a hard place, R-O-C stands for Republic of China, the name of Taiwan. This self-governing island with a population of 24 million people is a leading technology innovator and manufacturer. Where are many of the chips in your smart phone or computer made? In Taiwan. Where are many of Canadian Norco’s bike frames made? In Taiwan. Which place in Asia is home to 13 recognized Indigenous groups with a total population of 560,000? Taiwan. Where is arguably some of the best food in Asia? Taiwan. And what is Canada’s 5th largest trading partner in Asia and 13th largest in the work? You guessed it, Taiwan.

ROK: R-O-K. Republic of Korea (ROK) is the official name of South Korea. During the final days of World War Two in the Pacific, the Soviet Union moved across Manchuria into the northern part of the Korean peninsula and the United States moved into the peninsula from the south. Parties agreed to split the peninsula in half in 1948. Tensions escalated and war broke out from 1950 to 1953, with the U.S.-led United Nations forces taking sides with the South and the Soviet Union and China siding with the North. Since then South Korea has transformed itself from an impoverished country to an economic power. It was one of the so-called four Asian Tigers or Dragons (Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong being the others) that saw significant economic and industrial growth between the 1960s and 1990s. See, also DMZ and DPKR.


SCO: If we add two ts at the end, we’ve got a popular name. As is, it is the S-C-O (rather than “skow”), which stands for Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an intergovernmental international organization created in 2001. It is best to quote SCO’s website to show how broad and diverse the goals of this organization are: “strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states; promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region; and moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.” The SCO currently has eight member states (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), four observer states (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia), and six dialogue partners (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia, Nepal, Turkey, and Sri Lanka).

SCS: The South China Sea (SCS) is a sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia that lies in between China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan. The South China Sea has immense strategic value – it connects the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and about US$5 billion worth of goods pass through it annually, including a significant portion of oil bound for Northeast Asia. The SCS has rich fisheries and large oil and gas reserves. Tensions often run high in the region as there are multiple overlapping maritime and territorial claims.

SEA: Southeast Asia. A term coined by allied forces during World War Two and popularized during the Cold War that lumps together a bunch of decolonizing (and one independent) countries that now includes Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and East Timor. Prior to this, European colonizers often called the mainland portion of Southeast Asia, Indochina, as in a region situated between India and China and that shared cultural influences from both. There are multiple ways of viewing the region, such as according to religious communities, highland and lowland communities, Southeast Asia Massif / Zomia, ethnicities, or the like. Southeast Asia can also be viewed as an economic or regional bloc, as in ASEAN. Southeast Asia’s population of 655 million people is culturally and linguistically diverse – about one sixth of the world’s spoken languages are used in the region. About 1.69 million Canadians identified as having roots in Southeast Asia in the 2016 census. The region has become an increasingly important region for Canada’s (as well as Taiwan, Japan, China and India’s) trade diversification plans.

SME: This is one “e” short of Smee in Peter Pan, so it is read as S-M-E, which stands for small and medium-sized enterprise. It sometimes comes with an additional “s” as in SMEs to signify that it is a plural. And sometimes it comes with an extra M as in MSME, where M stands for micro. How micro, small, and medium are defined depends on context and often changes depending on the country. Sometimes they are measured by staff, assets, sales or some combination of these. Despite the variation a good estimate is that a micro enterprise has less than 10 employees and less than C$100,000 in both assets and annual sales. A small enterprise has between 10 and 50 employees and between C$100,000 and C$3million in each assets and sales. A medium-sized enterprise has between 50 and 300 employees and between C$3 million and C$15 million in each assets and sales. In Canada, there are about 1.1 million (M)SMEs accounting for about 99% of businesses.

Six Party Talks: Sound fun, doesn’t it? Well, actually this was a serious matter. China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. met intermittently from 2003 to 2009 to discuss dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. The talks fizzled out when North Korea stopped attending in 2009. Pundits often called it nothing more than coffee shop talk as not much came out of the discussions. But at least it was a party (it was not) and they were talking.


TaLK Program: The “Teach and Learn in Korea” also known as the ‘TaLK’ Program, is a unique scholarship opportunity for undergraduates who are seeking a personal, professional and educational experience in the Republic of Korea. The program, which began in April of 2008 is designed to support public English education in the rural areas of Korea, where the access to higher quality educational resources are limited. Go TaLK in Korea!

TPP: Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP has a humble beginning as negotiations among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore beginning in 2003 for a free trade agreement linking Asia, Oceania and the Americas. They called the agreement the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement or TPSEP or P4 for short – it entered into force in 2006. Canada had little to gain from getting involved in the P4. This agreement gained more attention when U.S. President Barak Obama launched his “pivot to Asia” initiative and wanted to use trade deals to reinforce U.S. leadership and as a tool for engagement and norm setting. As eight more parties joined the P4, negotiations continued, and created the twelve member TPP. Even though the U.S. took the lead in TPP negotiations it was U.S. President Trump that withdrew the U.S. in January 2017 and ended the TPP. Negotiations continued and a new deal, the CPTPP, was created with the remaining 11 countries. Thus CPTPP is sometimes called TPP11. See CPTPP

TPP-1: After the U.S. withdrew from the TPP in 2017, it was often referred to as TPP-1, T-P-P minus one. See CPTPP.

TPP10: Trans-Pacific Partnership 11. For a short period of time in late 2017 on the margins of the APEC meeting in Vietnam, it looked as though Canada would not remain a part of the TPP and that Japan was willing to move forward without Canada. With the U.S. already gone, that would have left ten members in the TPP. See CPTPP.

TPP11: Trans-Pacific Partnership 11. This is another name for CPTPP as it was signed with eleven partners, one party shy (the U.S.) of the original 12. See CPTPP.

Trade architecture/infrastructure: No, this does not mean folks are out there trading blueprints, buildings, bridges, ports, or 3D design applications. It refers to mechanisms that deal with trade such as policies, trade agreements, and institutions (i.e. WTO, UNCTAD).

Twinning / Sister Relationship: When two jurisdictions, like cities or provinces/states/prefectures, sign an agreement to collaboratively work on cultural or educational exchanges, or business development. Japan and China both have over 1,500 agreements around the world. Canada has about 270 agreements around the world, over 50% of which are in the Asia Pacific: 79 with Japan, 49 with China, 12 with South Korea, 6 with the Philippines, and 5 with India.

2+2: This is not a skill testing question. Rather it is diplomatic jargon for a bilateral meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers.


UN: Read as U-N, occasionally as “un,” or in full as United Nations. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt coined the term United Nations during World War Two in 1942. The organization came into being in on October 24, 1945 with 51 founding member states with the goal to maintain world peace, something its predecessor the League of Nations was unable to do. There are six main organs of the UN: the General Assembly (UNGA), the Security Council (UNSC), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the Secretariat. The UN provides a platform for its current 193 member states to jointly work on a wide range of issues that face global humanity such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, and food production.

UNCLOS: UNIQLO sister brand? Not quite. Un-clos, or U-N-clos stands for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that in 1984 cemented many long standing international norms on marine and maritime activities. Also, see EEZ.

UNCTAD: Read as unk-tad. Geneva, Switzerland-headquartered United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations that supports developing countries benefit from increased integration to the global economy and minimize potential drawbacks. Formed in 1964, it conducts economic research and makes policy recommendations for governments. In 2019, UNCTAD partnered with ESCAP to produce the report Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2019: Navigating Non-tariff Measures towards Sustainable Development.

UNDP: U-N-D-P is the United Nations Development Programme, a branch of the UN that works directly in about 170 countries to eliminate poverty, reduce inequalities, and support the planet. Bangkok, Thailand-headquartered UNDP Asia-Pacific delivers programs in 36 countries from its 26 regional offices.

UNDRIP: Un-drip or U.N. drip are two common ways of reading this, but given that it doesn’t sound all that great, it is also commonly read  as U-N-D-R-I-P. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) brings together nearly 30 years of dialogue among indigenous people around the world and is the most comprehensive international agreement on Indigenous rights. Its 47 articles address minimum standards of rights on everything from land and education to health and culture. The UN General Assembly adopted it in 2007 with 144 countries in favour, 11 abstentions, and 4 in opposition. All of the countries that originally opposed the declaration (Canada, along with Australia, New Zealand, and the United States) have reversed their position; Canada did so in 2016. The province of B.C. became the first jurisdiction in Canada to legislate UNDRIP in 2019.

UNESCAP: Also referred to as ESCAP. This is not about escaping the UN. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) was established in Shanghai, China in 1947 under the name Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE). It moved its headquarters to Bangkok in 1949 but didn’t get its current name until 1974 when the organization broadened its focus. ESCAP, which has 53 regional member states and 9 associate members, provides analytical products on economic, social and environmental issues in the region.

USMCA: The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is the new NAFTA or NAFTA 2.0, a free trade agreement between these three countries. It includes a number of items from CPTPP and some provisions to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Mexico and the U.S. have ratified it and Canada is, at the time of writing, going through the ratification process. . The Canadian government prefers to call it CUSMA so it can put Canada first. But US President Trump prefers USMCA as it keeps ‘America first’ and is easier for him to remember by reciting the hit song YMCA by the Village People – no, this isn’t a joke. And Mexican President Enriwue Pena Nieto settled on the dinosaur sounding T-MEC. It’s all a matter of branding the same content for domestic audiences.


Value-add or value added: This slippery buzzword refers to any sort of product where some sort of input or modification is made to the original product to increase its value. Be warned that it is tricky to know what exactly can be seen as adding value versus what inputs or modifications to a product or service that do not. The use of the term often comes with a wide variety of meanings (income, capital, worker benefits, wages, price of a good or service). These can all be tied to specific policies and programs so the meaning can and does easily shift.

Vancouver Dialogue: Stay tuned for more on this APF Canada initiative.


WB: Not to be confused with the Hollywood cartel that brought the Harry Potter series to our troubled teenage years, WB actually stands for World Bank Group and there's not much magic to it ... well unless you consider economic development ~magical~. The World Bank and the IMF are sometimes termed the Bretton Woods Institutions because they were both created from discussion among 44 nations in 1944 in Bretton Woods, U.S., focused on how to establish a stable and cooperative global post-World War Two economy. Since these institutions were led by the West, especially the United States, they have become increasingly criticized since the re-emergence of China. The WB has shifted its focus over the years from infrastructure investment to income equality, poverty reduction, and a repository of development related knowledge.

WHO: This might bring on thoughts of the English rock band The Who. “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?” W-H-O, in this case stands for the World Health Organization, a specialized body within the United Nations that promotes health and well-being around the world. Which Chinese president supported Taiwan participating in the WHO? The answer is: Hu [laughter please].

WTO: What the otter? Close, but not quite. In this case WTO stands for the Geneva, Switzerland-headquartered World Trade Organization, an international organization focused on rules of trade between its 164 member nations (yes, Canada is one of them) and promoting trade in products and services by reducing barriers and encouraging transparency and provide a structure for dispute settlement. It was established in 1995, replacing its predecessor organization GATT, which mainly focused on trade of goods and had no mechanisms to enforce its many rules. The U.S.-China trade war and spread of protectionism has thrown a curve ball at the WTO, which is under pressure to modernize its structure to deal with next generation issues. In recent years, South Korea filed a complaint against Japan and China against the United States. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been blocking new appointees to the Appellate Body, the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism that judicates cases, resulting in its collapse in December 2019. On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020, 17 WTO members announced the creation of an alternative dispute system spearheaded by Canada and the EU. On another note, it is possible that the World Taekwondo Federation was eyeing this acronym when they had finally realized what WTF stood for in English-speaking world.




ZEN: This is not an acronym, but after so many acronyms this is perhaps a good word to end with. Take a deep breath, as the acronyms here just touch the surface of those found when looking at Canada-Asia Pacific relations.