Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed intentions of broadening partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help member nations in charting a path towards sustainable development and prosperity.
Trudeau made the commitment during the ASEAN-Canada 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit held at Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay on Tuesday, November 14, as part of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings.
“Canada is not only willing but ready to be a key partner for the next 50 years,” Trudeau said as he faced the 10 ASEAN leaders including President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Trudeau noted that ASEAN has been instrumental to the liberalization of trade and establishment of fair, rules-based international systems for the past 50 years.
“As unprecedented dynamic growth is driving Southeast Asia’s importance on the world stage, it is critical that we build this progress and that we expand this partnership,” he said.
To further contribute to ASEAN’s success, Trudeau expressed Canada’s plan to join the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus “at the earliest opportunity.”
“This would allow Canada to become a full and dynamic partner of ASEAN, a partner that can truly contribute to the organization and its mission,” he stressed.
“Canada believes that a strengthened partnership will help us chart a path towards an economic future that is more prosperous, more equal and more stable for generations to come which is why we are so pleased that we have together begun discussions on Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement,” he added.
Trudeau likewise committed to help ASEAN in achieving safer and more secure communities by addressing humanitarian issues and regional tensions.
He cited Canada’s interventions in addressing the plight of the Muslim minority in Myanmar as well as his stance against the North Korean missile tests.
“As tensions in North Korea continue to escalate, Canada stands united with the Asian continent and the world in our demand that North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons and ballistic weapon missile programs,” he said.
“North Korea must immediately cease all activities to go against its international obligations and the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he added.
“You see in times of crisis, Canadians are prepared to lend a helping hand to their neighbors and their friends. It’s not only what we do; it’s who we are,” he furher said.
Trudeau noted that it is the first time a Canadian Prime Minister has been given an opportunity to meet with the ASEAN leaders.
For his part, President Duterte said ASEAN and Canada have explored common ground to address traditional and non-traditional security issues such as terrorism and human trafficking to accelerate economic cooperation and to promote the rights of women and children and migrant workers while broadening people-to-people ties.
“We only need to look at the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its blueprints to see the alignment of ASEAN’s core interests with those of Canada’s,” he said.
“The people-centered, people-oriented agenda that leaves no one behind guides ASEAN-Canada engagements including this Summit. Today, our vision for our respective countries, our region and the world finds expression in the broad directions that we, as leaders, set for the future of ASEAN-Canada relations,” he added. PND