Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making a pitch to a bloc of 10 nations in Southeast Asia in the hopes of securing major trade opportunities for Canada. Trudeau also met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang yesterday and reportedly pushed to make free trade negotiations happen.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is reportedly expanding more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, with a combined economy of $2.8 trillion USD. Those countries include the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma.
Trudeau is campaigning in Singapore to convince the ASEAN that Canada is a better place for Southeast Asian companies to invest in than the US, considering all the new Trump-mandated barriers that are now in place. According to City News, Trudeau is hoping to hammer out the full details of an Asia-Canada trade deal as early as spring 2019.
"One of the things that is a big differentiator between us and our neighbour to the south right now is the fact that top companies can get visas for their top talent in certain sectors in less than two weeks, to be able to come and set up shop in Canada, and start doing great things with us," said Trudeau.
One expert told CTV News that an initial study of a Canada-ASEAN trade deal has already been completed, but coming up with a final agreement could take as long as eight years.
Also during his visit to Southeast Asia, Trudeau has opted not to participate in an 18-nation gathering with the US, China and Russia, where global tensions with North Korea will likely be discussed.