Monday, September 25, 2017

ASEAN and Canada promote SMEs

ASEAN and Canada agreed to enhance the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as part of their efforts to boost economic development in the region.

At the 14th ASEAN-Canada dialogue meeting held recently in Ottawa, the two sides discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Canada is one of the grouping’s most valuable dialogue partners.

Jose Tavares, director general of ASEAN Cooperation at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, said in a press release yesterday that the role of SMEs is important to boost economic development in ASEAN member countries. Most of the new economic progress in the region is concentrated on SMEs investment.

Meanwhile, Canada will continue to help empower SMEs in ASEAN member countries through the Canada-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Project on ASEAN SMEs, which is worth US$12 million (K16.43 billion).

Through the project, Canada will also help formulate policies and programs to encourage ASEAN SMEs to enter the global supply chain.

The Indonesian government, representing ASEAN, also welcomed the Canadian government’s initiative to explore the potential for an ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the future, as ASEAN is the sixth-largest trading partner of Canada.

“The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, along with Canadian experts, are conducting a preliminary feasibility study of an ASEAN-Canada FTA,” Tavares told Antara news agency.

“The results of the study, which will be presented to a meeting of senior ASEAN-Canada economic officers in early July, are expected to be agreed upon this year,” he added.

Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed the intention to become a strategic dialogue partner of ASEAN as soon as possible. This year Canada is commemorating the 40th anniversary of its ties with ASEAN.

ASEAN has seven strategic dialogue partners – the US, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Last year, Canada assigned Marie-Louise Hannan as an ASEAN envoy based in Jakarta. It now has diplomatic offices in all ASEAN member countries.