Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) encouraged Canada to swiftly complete the ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement (ASEAN-Canada FTA) to gain potential addition for the region's gross domestic product (GDP) worth US$39.36 billion.

Based on the fact that Canada is a traditional trading partner of the ASEAN, Indonesia has engaged with it to expand the scope of cooperation through the finalization of the ASEAN-Canada FTA, Indonesian Ambassador to Canada Abdul Kadir Jailani noted in a written statement issued by the Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa and received here on Tuesday.

The statement was delivered by Ambassador Jailani at a discussion on "ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement: Potential and benefits" held in Ottawa on Monday (March 2).

The meeting was attended by 93 invitees from the circles of entrepreneurs, Canadian government officials, academics, and officials from ASEAN member states' embassies in Ottawa.

The discussion was held by the Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa in cooperation with Export Development Canada-- a Canadian state-owned enterprise for export credit.

The meeting’s attendees also comprised some other speakers: Charge d'Affaire of the Vietnamese Embassy in Ottawa Huong Tra Nguyen, Director of Trade Policy and Negotiations of Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jay Allen, and Chairman of the Canada–ASEAN Business Council Jean Charest.

During the discussion, Charest stressed that Canada has several aspects supporting the utilization of the ASEAN-Canada FTA, and it encompasses a reliable financial and banking system, an economy based on information technology and digital systems, copious pension funds that can be utilized to develop infrastructure, as well as Canada's geographical position as an entry point to the US market.

In the meantime, Allen stated that Canada had, in fact, focused on Asian markets, though the approach used is through development cooperation.

The Canadian government had also launched various initiatives aimed at establishing market access, including developing training programs, appointing trade commissioner, facilitating exports, and supporting overseas investments.

Vietnamese Charge d'Affaire in Ottawa Huong Tra Nguyen reiterated the significance of the ASEAN-Canada FTA as a mechanism for bolstering ASEAN's position in the context of the global supply chain and value chain networks, including Canada.

He believed that the ASEAN-Canada FTA is a concrete form of norm establishment in multilateral trade that has been driven by Canada at several global forums.

Furthermore, at the discussion, Indonesian Ambassador to Canada Abdul Kadir Jailani showed statistics on the benefits that ASEAN and Canada could derive from the ASEAN-Canada FTA scheme.

Jailani expounded that both the ASEAN and Canada can gain additional real GDP from the implementation of an FTA.

The ASEAN is projected to gain additional real GDP of $39.36 billion from the FTA if it were to be implemented, while Canada is estimated to score an additional real GDP of some $5.11 billion.

Each party is expected to benefit from tariff removals, reduction of Non-tariff Measures (NTMs), and some possible trade facilitation.

Ambassador Jailani further expounded that the FTA later on is not only related to goods and services but also to several other matters that concern governance, regulation and culture, as well as social perspectives.

At the meeting, he also further explained about the potential gap between the ASEAN and Canada, including in investment, e-commerce, people movement, financial services, intellectual property, environmental issues, and society customs. Related news: ASEAN launches digital archive of region's cultural heritage

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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