Trudeau Cites Pandemic Interrupted Supply Chains to Promote ASEAN Free Trade Agreement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used the specter of twisted global supply chains in an attempt Sunday by a bloc of Southeast Asian nations to win them over in a free trade deal.

Trudeau has long sought a trade deal with the 10-nation bloc, which includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

He told a virtual business summit organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that a free trade agreement with Canada would be a “mutual benefit” for all parties, particularly if it were to emerge from the pandemic.

Speaking in a pre-recorded message, Trudeau argued that an agreement with ASEAN would help companies and entrepreneurs establish connections and business relationships around the world.

He also said that a pact would give investors more confidence to invest in international markets and protect supply chains from uncertainties caused by COVID-19.

Trade bottlenecks around the world have recovered more slowly than consumer demand for goods, and have been further slowed by ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks and public health measures.

All of this affects inventories of consumer products in demand or the delivery of parts needed to build things like cars, and increases transportation costs that are passed on to consumers, which is reflected in higher inflation rates.

“By ending the fight against COVID-19, deepening our ties with the ASEAN economies and diversifying trade in Asia-Pacific will play a crucial role in our recovery,” Trudeau said in his speech.

“My friends, a strong relationship between Canada and ASEAN is clearly beneficial for all of our companies and for all of our people.”

The 10-nation bloc economies as a group represent Canada’s sixth largest trading partner, but the country already has access to four ASEAN members (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam) through a River Basin trade pact. Pacific known as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement. for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The Liberals’ electoral platform promised a new hub to help companies seize opportunities under CPTPP, and a new Asia-Pacific strategy aimed at deepening ties in the region, including new trade deals.

Trudeau uses pandemic-plagued supply chains in a free trade speech for #ASEAN. #CDNPoli

A preliminary analysis by ASEAN and the federal government on the merits of a free trade agreement estimated that Canadian exports of goods and services to the bloc could increase by 13.3 percent, valued at $ 2.67 billion.

In his speech, Trudeau said that both parties must also ensure that women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ entrepreneurs, visible minorities and other underrepresented business owners get involved and benefit from the trade.

This Canadian Press report was first published on October 24, 2021.

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