Justin Trudeau to conquer the Indo-Pacific region

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Justin Trudeau conquers the Indo-Pacific region

Canadian Prime Minister wants to write a new chapter in Canadian foreign policy.

The Indo-Pacific region is one of the new priorities of Canadian foreign policy.

Ottawa wants to move the core of its foreign policy closer to the Indo-Pacific zone. Justin Trudeau's tour, which is beginning in Asia, is a first step in this direction.

This official trip will serve, among other things, to signal a diplomatic transition, said a senior government official, who is not authorized to speak publicly.

In recent years, we have been very American-centrist and Euro-centrist, admits this government source.

Ottawa is thus beginning a shift.

The Indo-Pacific region is the epicenter of a global and generational transition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday during a speech setting out the main lines of her new Indo-Pacific strategy. Mélanie Joly also pointed out that the region will represent more than half of the world economy within 20 years.

To counterbalance China, the government wants to get closer to countries like India, Japan and South Korea. Ottawa smells good business and hopes to be able to export critical minerals, hydrogen and liquefied natural gas, and benefit from its expertise in artificial intelligence.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met bilaterally in Ottawa in September.

During his trip, the Prime Minister will stop at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Next, Justin Trudeau will stop at the G20 Summit taking place in Indonesia, before taking part in the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Thailand.

Ottawa's goals go beyond mere trade, according to Benoit Hardy-Chartrand, adjunct professor at Temple University in Japan and researcher at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies.

The goal for Canada is not just to increase its trade, but also to be seen as a reliable partner who can contribute to the stability of the region, explains the teacher.

ASEAN brings together about ten countries in Southeast Asia.

Moreover, Minister Joly indicated on Wednesday that she wanted to strengthen the Canadian military presence in Asia-Pacific. Already, since 2018, Canada has periodically deployed ships and aircraft to prevent maneuvers to circumvent the sanctions imposed on North Korea, as part of Operation NEON.

The goal also for Canada is to be more invited to major summits and major negotiating tables in the region where Canada has often been ignored in recent decades , explains Benoit Hardy-Chartrand.

If Minister Mélanie Joly uses strong terms to talk about China, calling it a disruptive power, if she asks companies to do business there with lucidity, trade with Beijing is not formally discouraged.

For now, Canada is sticking to strategic interventions, such as banning giant Huawei from its 5G network, or ordering Chinese firms out of Canada's critical minerals industry.

Canada took several months to decide whether to rule out Huawei from the development of the 5G network in the country.

“Everyone is trying to finding that middle ground, but it's not at all obvious. »

— Patrick Leblond, professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

During a recent speech in Washington, the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, promoted an approach based on the economy of affinity, aiming to develop supply chains with countries with values similar.

The Minister of Innovation, François-Philippe Champagne, went further by speaking of a decoupling with China, aimed at getting rid of trade dependence on Beijing.

This process cannot be done by shouting scissors, notes Professor Patrick Leblond, while China remains Canada's second largest trading partner.

Microprocessors are at the heart of many economic negotiations and tensions between different states, because they are highly coveted.

It's very difficult for companies that have already invested billions of dollars in this market to do manufacturing to say, “Okay, we're going to undo this and we're going to try to start again in Europe, in Canada, in the United States or ASEAN countries." It can be done slowly, but we are talking about several years, if not at least a decade, explains Patrick Leblond.

He points out that distancing oneself from trade with China could lead to an increase in the price of certain goods for Canadian consumers.

We are already in an inflationary period where people are finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic goods. So how much more pressure are we willing to put on?, asks Professor Leblond.

Here lies the crux of Justin Trudeau's puzzle: how to curb the economic power of China, without suffering too much economically?

Canadian Exports (2021)

  • Japan: $14.5 billion
  • Korea South: $6.3 billion
  • India: $3 billion
    Source: Statistics Canada

Canadian Imports (2021)

  • Japan: $15.4 billion
  • South Korea: $10.3 billion
  • < li>India: $6 billion
    Source: Statistics Canada

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