The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, today concluded a productive trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meetings on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
At the ASEAN-Canada Post-Ministerial Conference with Canada’s 10 ASEAN partners, Minister Ng underscored Canada’s support for ASEAN centrality and Canada’s shared interest in a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Reflecting on Canada’s 45-year partnership with ASEAN and our growing ties.
The Minister emphasized Canada’s significant contributions across ASEAN’s three community pillars. She also highlighted the historic launch of Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement negotiations, initiatives such as the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) program, women, peace and security initiatives, and efforts that support gender equality and promote women entrepreneurship in the region.
As a testament to the importance of our partnership with ASEAN, Minister Ng announced the creation of a new Canada-ASEAN trust fund, with an initial contribution of $1 million. This Fund will support activities that promote cooperation between Canada and ASEAN and support Canada’s strategic objectives in the region.
At both the ASEAN-Canada Post-Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Minister expressed Canada’s grave concern over the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, and reiterated Canada’s condemnation of the coup d’état and the escalating violence. She stressed Canada’s readiness to work with ASEAN in finding a peaceful solution, including through implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and the work of ASEAN’s Special Envoy from Cambodia.
Throughout her engagements, Minister Ng also strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, which is a direct and flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. She emphasized that Russia’s aggression goes against the core principles outlined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, with consequences that are being felt not only in Europe, but throughout the world, including in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Minister reiterated Canada’s firm commitment to supporting a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and ongoing contributions to peace and security across the region. She expressed concern over China’s ongoing escalatory activities in the East and South China Seas, and recent unjustified economic and military actions in the Taiwan Strait, which risk increasing tensions and destabilizing the region. The Minister encouraged all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency, and maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstanding.
During her visit, Minister Ng met with a number of ASEAN partners to discuss expanding cooperation and to promote economic growth and sustainable development. She reiterated Canada’s commitment to working with partners to support the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific.
Minister Ng thanked Cambodia for hosting the 2022 ASEAN ministerial meetings, which coincide with the 45th year of Canada-ASEAN relations. She also thanked Malaysia as Canada’s country coordinator for ASEAN.