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Canada begins trade talks with southeast Asian bloc to diversify trade in region

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Canada is starting negotiations on a free-trade agreement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a pact that could help expand and deepen Canadian business ties in the Indo-Pacific region beyond China.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng announced the decision to commence talks Tuesday following a virtual meeting with economic ministers representing countries that belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The biggest economies in this trading bloc include Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.

“This is a significant milestone in the renewal and deepening of Canada’s economic partnerships and commercial engagement across the Indo-Pacific,” Ms. Ng said in a statement.

She said a deal with ASEAN’s fast-growing economies could help diversify supply chains for Canadian companies, create new opportunities for Canadian exporters and reinforce a commitment in the region to “open markets and rules-based trade.”

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