Justin Trudeau wants to counterbalance Chinese influence in Southeast Asia

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Justin Trudeau wants to counterbalance Chinese influence in Southeast Asia

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and took the opportunity to unveil Canada's Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and announce Canada's new Indo- Pacific.

As a result, Mr. Trudeau unveiled a $330 million investment plan over 5 years for the 10 countries in the region. The Prime Minister wishes to develop new commercial ties in the member countries of ASEAN and thus counterbalance the growing influence of China.

I am happy to be with you today to strengthen the already very strong ties between Canadians and the peoples of Southeast Asia, said Mr. Trudeau at the outset.

ASEAN is an association of 10 countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, but also Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Laos, Burma and Cambodia. These countries are expected to experience significant economic growth over the next few years.

The Canadian funding, which will be spread over five years, will notably make it possible to develop initiatives such as the Trade Gateway in Southeast Asia ($24.1 million), Feminist International Assistance Policy and Financing for Development ($100 million), Common Ocean Fund ($84.3 million), and commitment to the Indo-Pacific ($40 million).

This new Canadian Strategy for the Indo-Pacific also aims to demonstrate the seriousness of Canada's commitment in the region and to relaunch its presence, which has been uneven in recent years. Canada will continue to be there as a reliable partner, Prime Minister Trudeau said.

Canadian civil society will also be involved in the Indo-Pacific strategy, among other things with an increased presence of the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada and with the expansion of the Scholarships and Educational Exchange Programs initiative. for Development – ​​which will receive $14.2 million in funding over five years.

Canada, as a Pacific nation, has in fact entered into free- exchange with the ASEAN group last year, so as to take advantage of the windfall that will come from their rapid growth.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng spoke of significant progress in talks with ASEAN member countries, but did not specify a timeline on the matter.

Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.

Last week, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly unveiled some of Canada's intentions in its strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, such as strengthening Canada's role as an engaged partner in the region. It is about ensuring resilience, peace and security; increase trade, investment and supply chain resilience; to invest in people and bring them together; and build a sustainable and green future.

With this new Canadian Indo-Pacific Strategy, the country is also adopting a tougher tone towards China and trying to reach agreements in Beijing's backyard.

Minister Joly said earlier that for us, China is a world power that is disruptive. However, she said she has no fear of possible retaliation from China in this case.

This is our approach, so there are no surprises, the cards are on the table and our goal is to be present in the region, said Ms. Joly.

Because other countries want to develop more commercial ties with Southeast Asia , starting with the United States. US President Joe Biden also visited the ASEAN summit to strengthen economic ties. Among other things, he announced partnerships for electric vehicles. The United States is making tangible efforts, according to Joe Biden.

With information from Louis Blouin

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